How We Work

Inside the Gates


Welcome to our podcast series, "Inside the Gates." Here, we plan to regularly offer a glimpse into how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works with partners and grantees to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

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Episode 12:

This episode focuses on innovation - a core value of the foundation. Find out how it guides our approach to solving global challenges.

  • Failures & New Ideas. Meet Trevor Mundel, president of our global health work and innovator to the core. Trevor shares how he thinks about innovation's role in how we work.
  • The Country's Mattress. Hear from the CEO of bKash, one of our partners working to bring mobile phone banking to the people of Bangladesh.
  • One Bold Idea, Two Pages. Discover the ins and outs of the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, and learn how big ideas can come from anyone, anywhere.
  • Give for the Game. We'll introduce you to Madi Williamson, a young Seattle native who started her own nonprofit that uses soccer to strengthen communities around the globe.

Episode 11:

This episode is all about the foundation's work in US education. Learn about our strategies and meet some of the partners we work with to help all students succeed.

  • Springboard to Opportunity. Hear from Allan Golston, president of our US education work and long-time leader at the foundation.
  • Powerful Learning Connections. We sat down with the president of The New Teacher Project, who shared his organization's vision for helping K - 12 students get access to very effective teachers.
  • It's All About Completion. A few of our partners were in Seattle exploring new ways to make earning a higher education degree or certificate a reality for more low-income and minority students.

Episode 10:

In this episode, we explore different efforts the foundation is making to improve the way we work - both internally, and with grantees and partners.

  • A common approach. Meet the team that is improving the tools and simplifying the process for how we make and manage grants and other charitable investments.
  • Context is key. Hear from the director of our India office on the importance of understanding local context and the foundation's evolving approach to working with partners, communities, and the government of India.
  • At the same table. Several of our global advocacy grantees were in Seattle for a summit to share lessons and stories from the field - we sat down with two of them to learn more.

Episode 9:

We step behind the scenes at the Gates Foundation's annual employee meeting and find out why coming together as one foundation is so important for the work we do.

  • Progress & Partnerships. Hear what’s on the minds of Jeff, Bill, and Melinda.
  • A Common Purpose. Foundation staff share where they find inspiration in grantees’ work.
  • Meeting in the Middle. Listen to conversation on topics like partnership, transparency, and where the Gates Foundation intersects with its grantees.

Episode 8:

In this episode, we share diverse perspectives on mobilizing individuals, communities, and resources around global challenges.

  • Positive Disruption. That’s the theme for the recent TEDxChange event which Melinda Gates hosted at the foundation’s office in Seattle. We share highlights from this annual gathering that had over 200 satellite events participating around the world.
  • The role of the advocate. Meet Jay Naidoo, who works with GAIN, one of the foundation’s long-standing partners in the field of nutrition. He shares his thoughts on the role that advocacy can play in solving pressing global issues.
  • Engaging the next generation. We met Craig Kielberger, who founded Free the Children when he was just twelve years old. Craig shares his excitement for inspiring youth to make a difference.


Episode 7:

  • In our own backyard. Hear from David Bley, Director of the foundation’s work in the Pacific Northwest, and learn about the opportunities we see to reduce intergenerational poverty and help thousands of kids receive a quality education.
  • Voices from the community. Meet Vu Le, Executive Director of our local grantee the Vietnamese Friendship Association. He sat down with his foundation program officer to talk about work happening in the nation’s most diverse zip code.

Hear the full episode. This episode focuses on our work in the Pacific Northwest. Hear interviews with foundation staff and grantees, and learn about a recent event hosted at our Visitor Center in Seattle that used the sport of soccer to connect our community to important causes around the world.

Episode 6: February 2013

  • Our collective impact. We sat down with David Shoultz, the foundation’s new director of grantee & partner engagement, to get the scoop on the year ahead.
  • Vaccines and Progress in Bihar. Meet Orin Levine, our director of vaccine delivery, as he reports from India on the exciting potential of routine immunization.
  • The Challenges of Measurement. Hear from National Public Radio’s Kinsey Wilson and Dan Green, deputy director of strategic partnerships at the foundation, as they discuss the ins and outs of what to measure. 

Episode 5: January 2013 

  • A Conversation with Aliko Dangote. James Whittington reports from Nigeria and sits down with Africa’s wealthiest individual to learn about the part he’s playing to help eradicate polio. 
  • The Evolution of a Partnership. We met with grantee, Asia Society, and our College Ready education team to hear what they’re learning about working together to help all students succeed in school and life. 
  • Around the foundation. Bill’s Annual Letter is coming up and Melinda paid a trip to the BBC as a guest editor. Our roving reporter brings you the highlights. 
  • New Year’s Resolutions. Irvin tells listeners what he’s looking forward to in 2013

Next time, the importance of feedback.

Episode 4: November 2012

  • How We Think About Strategy. Hear from Jodi Nelson, Director of Strategy, Measurement & Evaluation, on how the foundation approaches its strategy development process.
  • A Conversation with Building Changes. We sat down with Alice Shobe, Executive Director of our grantee Building Changes, and David Wertheimer, Deputy Director of the foundation’s Pacific Northwest initiative, to hear how they collaborate to help end homelessness in Washington State.
  • Around the foundation. Our roving reporter Jeremy Derfner gives us a glimpse into his recent conversation with World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan.
  • "Auntie Agony” Mercy Karanja will answer questions that you, our grantees, have submitted.

Episode 3: October 2012

  • Building Better Lives Together. How can we, as a foundation, work better as a team as well as with our partners to build better lives for the people we all serve? CEO Jeff Raikes discusses highlights from our 2011 Annual Report and the importance of engaging with our partners.
  • Digital & Audience Convening. Recently, we brought our grantees together to discuss how we use digital media to tell better stories, to connect with communities around the world, to effect change. Listen to what some participants have to say.
  • From Kenya to Seattle. Meet Peter Kithene, an intern here at the Gates Foundation, and hear his story of working in rural healthcare in Kenya and pursuing his graduate studies in Seattle.
  • "Auntie Agony” Mercy Karanja will answer questions that you, our grantees, have submitted.

 Episode 2: September 2012  

  • The Power of Effective Grantee Engagement. Trevor Mundel, President of the Global Health Program, talks about a recent field visit to India, and the impact of effective grantee engagement on the foundation's work.
  • "Auntie Agony” answers your questions about our brand new grantee progress report and more.
  • Into Africa. Meet Jane Otai from local grantee Tupange, at a mobile clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, and find out how music is hitting the right note for family planning efforts in the region.
  • A Day of Digital Innovation. Want to know how to maximize your organization’s impact online? Learn more about Digital & Audience convening and how you can join us.
  • Toilet Talk! On the heels of our “Reinventing the Toilet” fair here at the foundation, we hear from visitors to our Visitor Center where some of the reinvented toilet prototypes are on display.
  • World Food Prize, A Facebook “Hackathon”, Education Nation, and revolutionary ideas to change the world. You’ll find it all (and more) on this month’s podcast.

Episode 1 (Pilot): August 2012

  • How do strategies get developed at the foundation? Chris Elias, president of the Global Development program (and former CEO of foundation grantee PATH), talks about grantees as strategic partners and lets us in on his newest tool to make sure the foundation and grantees are having the real conversations to help us do our best work.
  • Boundless in Bihar. Shelly Thakral, program officer in the foundation’s India office takes us to the state of Bihar, home to 100 million people, where power and water are in short supply. Ensuring people have access to healthcare, water and sanitation are at the heart of an amazing partnership between the foundation and the government of Bihar.
  • The World Health Partners, where you can learn about this foundation grantee’s amazing work fighting infectious disease in Delhi, India.
  • "Auntie Agony," also known as Mercy Karanja, senior program officer here at the foundation, answers your grantee related questions.

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