Melinda French Gates will resign if she and Bill Gates can't work together at their foundation

Key Points
  • Melinda Gates would receive personal resources from Bill Gates for philanthropy if she were to step down as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The two have committed an additional $15 billion to the foundation.
  • The couple announced earlier this year that they were getting a divorce.
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates introduce the Goalkeepers event at the Lincoln Center on September 26, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)
LUDOVIC MARIN | AFP | Getty Images

Melinda French Gates, the wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for 27 years, will resign as co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation if after two years either of the two concludes that they cannot work together as co-chairs, the foundation said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes two months after the duo announced their split but said they would keep collaborating at the foundation, one of the world's wealthiest.

If Melinda French Gates does leave, then Bill Gates would give her "personal resources" for philanthropic purposes that would be separate from funding for the foundation, the foundation said in a statement.

Since its launch in 2000, the foundation has served as a symbol of the couple's efforts to spend money on education, health care and other areas. Most recently, the foundation has poured money into coronavirus vaccine development.

The foundation said the two have together committed $15 billion in fresh money to the organization, which spent over $5 billion in 2019. It's the single largest donation from them since they contributed $20 billion in Microsoft stock in 2000, and it now raises the endowment to $65 billion, Mark Suzman, the foundation's CEO, wrote in a note to employees.

The Gateses said have agreed to increase the number of trustees, the foundation said. Currently they and Warren Buffett are the only trustees, and Buffett announced plans to resign as a trustee in June.

"I'm grateful to the foundation's leadership team, employees, and partners for their dedication to making the world healthier and more just," Bill Gates wrote in a tweet following the announcement.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct additional amount of funding Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates will provide to the foundation.

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