Story at a glance

  • Van Jones and Chef José Andrés each received $100 million from Jeff Bezos.
  • Both activists have foundations that work in promoting civil rights and alleviating world hunger, respectively.
  • The award works to honor leaders who “pursue solutions.”

Following the successful flight of his Blue Origin commercial rocketship, Jeff Bezos gave two separate donations of $100 million to both chef and entrepreneur José Andrés and television legal analyst and Dream Corps founder Van Jones.


Bezos made the announcement on Tuesday during a press conference following the flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. The grants are a part of his new initiative, the Courage & Civility Award, which works to recognize individuals who “aim high, pursue solutions with courage, and always do so with civility,” a press release said

“I am beyond honored to accept Jeff Bezos' inaugural Courage & Civility Award,” Jones said in a statement after accepting the award. “I do so with a sense of gratitude, awe and wonder. In my 30 years as an activist and social entrepreneur, I have neither heard nor dreamed of a charitable prize of this magnitude.”

Van Jones will likely use the funding to continue running his civil rights activist organizations. For Andrés, his nine-figure grant will go toward his nonprofit World Central Kitchen.  

“We need unifiers and not vilifiers,” Bezos said at the donation announcement, per The Washington Post. “People who argue hard and act hard for what they truly believe, but always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. And unfortunately we live in a world where this is too often not the case.”


Published on Jul 21, 2021