News of Bill and Melinda Gates getting a divorce after 27 years together raises questions about their work in the nonprofit sector, especially the fate of their co-founded Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The couple has become some of the most powerful and influential philanthropists in the world. Through their foundation, they have provided financial support globally to public health, poverty, and education. They have brought in more than $50 billion over the past 20 years and have raised programs in child nutrition and vaccines and in malaria and polio eradication.
Suffice to say, Bill and Melinda hold the power to lobby for policy change, inspire positive actions, and encourage other billionaires to donate to charity. Their divorce could bring enormous implications for their work.
The couple announced their divorce in a joint statement posted on their respective Twitter pages. The Microsoft founder wrote, “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.”
Bill mentioned how for the past 27 years they have “raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.” Talking about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he assured that they will continue their “work together” as they “share a belief in that mission.”
“But we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for peace and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for their foundation said Bill and Melinda will remain co-chairs and trustees. In a statement shared by Vox, the representative confirmed, “They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”
As for their assets, the couple stated in divorce papers filed at King County Superior Court in Seattle that they have already reached an agreement on how to divide their properties. Bill and Melinda have a net worth of over $100 billion and they are America’s largest private farmland owner. Their separation could lead to a multi-billion divorce settlement.