OVERVIEW: The Bezos Family Foundation is solely dedicated to enriching education for students—starting before formal education begins, continuing through K-12 education, and positioning students for college success and enriched lives.
IP TAKE: The parents of tech billionaire Jeff Bezos have quietly built a thoughtful and substantial foundation that supports U.S. education on a structural level. This includes notable support for documentary films and film outreach for projects that tackle education.
PROFILE: The Bezos Family Foundation is the philanthropic passion project of Jackie and Miguel (Mike) Bezos—all bankrolled with shares of their Amazon stock. The foundation’s annual grantmaking has been growing lately, hitting $14.4 million in 2012, with all of it devoted to improving U.S. public education and the students it serves.
What does this have to do with film, you ask? Bezos Family Foundation partners (its term for grantees) include a substantial number of documentary film projects tackling the issues of education and opportunities for students.
Bezos Family Foundation grants flow through three focus areas: Early Learning, Excellence in K-12 Education, and Youth Leadership and Global Development. The films the foundation supports fall under all three realms. The foundation not only supports the development and production of these films, but also their dissemination, through outreach programs that engage youth and professional education populations. There are a lot of opportunities here for the right film project.
Film grantees include:
- "No Small Matter": supporting the research and production for this feature-length documentary film that "aims to start a national dialogue" about early childhood education "by highlighting the research, limitations and opportunities for early learning in the US."
- 50 Eggs, Inc.: supporting this film production company's creation of "Underwater Dreams," a documentary film that "seeks to inspire policy makers and thought leaders to bring more and better STEM education to all students."
- Half the Sky Movement: supporting their Campus Ambassadors program, which "provides students with a blueprint for engagement on the six issues presented in the Half the Sky Movement documentary: gender-based violence, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, maternal mortality, education and economic empowerment."
- The Better Angels Society: supporting the creation and development of the Ken Burns Mobile Classroom and Digital Library Project, "an online portal for educators and students to explore history through documentary film."
- The Moxie Institute: supporting a series of five short films in the "Let It Ripple" series, "highlighting the potential for collective impact and global connectivity."
Your challenge as a filmmaker is to gain direct access to the Bezos clan or its small group of staff, because the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, or even unsolicited inquiries.