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Gates Foundation big campus opens across from Seattle Center

Everything about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is looking big these days.

  • It’s the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation, with $37 billion in assets.
  • It has tripled the number of employees over the past five years, with nearly 900 local employees plus more than 300 contract-workers on its Seattle site.
  • And this week it’s dedicating a new campus in the heart of Seattle that dwarfs nearly everything around it – except perhaps the nearby Space Needle. 

KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld talked with Seattle Channel political analyst C.R. Douglas about what the growth means for the area.

On the location:

"We know Bill Gates' house more than we've ever known where the foundation was," says Douglas. "The foundation has had an abstract mission locally. And we will finally, by giving it a visible street address, have a place to think about ... the new offering Seattle is going to bring the world, which is global health." "You will have a visitor center, you will have a chance for the public to come in and kind of understand the mission more, look at some exhibits. There will be a chance, for instance, feel what it's like to carry water, if you're an African villager, which is something the foundation thinks a lot about."

On the foundation itself:

"It still feels in a lot of ways like a family business. Bill and Melinda and Warren Buffet are the only trustees ... At some point, the trustee level of the organization needs to look more representative. And that will help them ultimately, push their mission further."

To hear the full interview, play the Audio (above).


Keith Seinfeld is a former KNKX/KPLU reporter who covered health, science and the environment over his 17 years with the station. He also served as assistant news director. Prior to KLPU, he was a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.