What We Do

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We work with partners worldwide to tackle critical problems in six program areas. Our Gender Equality Division works to achieve gender equality by integrating gender across the foundation’s global work and investing in women’s economic empowerment, women’s leadership, and removing the barriers for women and girls to thrive. Our Global Health Division aims to reduce inequities in health by developing new tools and strategies to reduce the burden of infectious disease and the leading causes of child mortality in developing countries. Our Global Development Division focuses on improving the delivery of high-impact health products and services to the world’s poorest communities and helps countries expand access to health coverage. Our Global Growth & Opportunity division focuses on creating and scaling market-based innovations to stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Our United States Division works to improve U.S. high school and postsecondary education, and support vulnerable children and families in Washington State. And our Global Policy & Advocacy Division seeks to build strategic relationships and promote policies that will help advance our work. Our approach to grantmaking in all six areas emphasizes collaboration, innovation, risk-taking, and, most importantly, results.

where we work

Rather than look at the challenges that people face by region we identify challenges that can be tackled on a global level. We work with partners that can help to affect change globally, and then scale solutions to a local level.


At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe every life has equal value. But today, no matter where in the world you are, life will be harder if you’re born a girl. Our Gender Equality Division works to achieve gender equality by integrating gender across the foundation’s global work and investing in women’s economic empowerment, women’s leadership, and removing the barriers for women and girls to thrive.

  • Gender Equality

    Our goal is to accelerate progress toward a more gender-equal world by addressing the barriers that keep women and girls from being fully active in their homes, economies, and societies.

    Read Our Gender Equality Strategy Overview

  • Ideas

    Gender equality is not a side issue: It's every issue. There’s opportunity to rebuild a stronger, more resilient, more prosperous world, one that sidelines systemic inequality.

    Read Perspectives on Gender Equality

  • Gender Equality Toolbox

    Our Gender Equality Toolbox is made up of tools that can guide foundation staff and partners in designing, managing, and measuring the results and impact of gender intentional and gender transformative programs and investments.
    Visit the Gender Equality Toolbox Website

our global health division

Our Global Health Division aims to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries. We work with partners to deliver proven tools—including vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics—as well as discover pathbreaking new solutions that are affordable and reliable. Equally important is innovation in how we bring health interventions to those who need them most. We invest heavily in vaccine to prevent infectious diseases and support the development of integrated health solutions for family planning, nutrition, and maternal and child health.

  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

    NTDs are a group of debilitating infectious diseases that hold back over 1.5 billion people worldwide from reaching their full potential. These diseases impact vulnerable, hard-to-reach communities in low- and middle-income countries.
    Read Our NTDs Strategy Overview

  • HIV

    More than 33 million people around the world are currently living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and more than 30 million people have died from HIV-related complications since the earliest cases were detected in the 1980s.
    Read Our HIV Strategy Overview

  • Malaria

    Malaria occurs in nearly 100 countries worldwide, exacting a huge toll on human health and imposing a heavy social and economic burden in developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
    Read Our Malaria Strategy Overview

our global development division

Our Global Development Division aims to identify and fund the delivery of high-impact solutions that can reduce health inequities and give everyone the opportunity to live healthy, productive lives. We work closely with our partners to support innovative approaches and expand existing ones so they reach the people who are most in need.


Nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide live on less than US$1.90 a day, and more than 1 billion suffer from chronic hunger. Global Growth and Opportunity focuses on the areas of Agricultural Development; Gender Equality; Financial Services for the Poor; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. We believe that people are poor because markets don’t work for them, and we promote innovative products and policies that can break down barriers to economic opportunity, help people lift themselves out of poverty, and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth that benefits everyone. We invest in data and measurement to understand the underlying causes of poverty and develop evidence-based solutions that can be delivered at scale by our partners.

  • Agricultural Development

    We are working to transform agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to reduce hunger and poverty for millions of farming families by increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way.
    Read Our Agricultural Development Strategy Overview

  • Financial Services for the Poor

    Our goal is to help people in the world’s poorest regions improve their lives and build sustainable futures by connecting them with digitally based financial tools and services.

    Read Our Financial Services for the Poor Strategy Overview

  • Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

    Our goal is to enable universal access to sustainable sanitation services by supporting the development of radically new sanitation technologies as well as markets for new sanitation products and services.

    Read Our Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Strategy Overview

our u.s. program

In the United States, our primary focus is on ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and have an opportunity to earn a postsecondary degree with labor-market value. Our approach is to play a catalytic role—to support the development of innovative solutions in education that are unlikely to be generated by institutions working alone and that can trigger change on a broader scale. We also work to address issues of social inequity and poverty in Washington State, where the Gates family has lived for generations and the foundation makes its permanent home.

  • K-12 Education

    Our work supports innovation that can improve U.S. K-12 public schools and ensure that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college.

    Read Our K-12 Education Overview

  • Postsecondary Success

    This strategy is to ensure that all low-income young adults have affordable access to a quality postsecondary education that is tailored to their individual needs and educational goals and leads to timely completion of a degree or certificate with labor-market value.
    Read Our Postsecondary Success Overview

  • Our Work in Washington State

    Our goal is to create opportunities for all children in Washington State to thrive in stable families, great schools, and strong communities.

    Read Our Washington State Program Overview

our global policy & advocacy division

Because our resources alone are not enough to advance the causes we care about, we engage in advocacy efforts to promote public policies that advance our work, build strategic alliances with governments and the public and private sectors, and foster greater public awareness of urgent global issues. Our Global Policy & Advocacy Program has teams dedicated to advocacy, policy analysis, media and communications, government relations, as well as strengthening philanthropic partnerships and the charitable sector in the United States and overseas. We work in close collaboration with all our offices in the United States, Europe, China, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa.

  • Development Policy and Finance

    We aim to accelerate progress in advancing human development and alleviating extreme poverty by enabling evidence-based public policymaking at the global and national levels—through research, ideas, and innovations.
    Read our Development Policy and Finance overview

  • Tobacco Control

    We support efforts to reduce tobacco-related death and disease in low- and middle-income countries by preventing the initiation of new smokers, decreasing overall tobacco use, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
    Read our Tobacco Control Strategy Overview

  • Regional Offices

    Our regional offices help maintain and further a global presence in our advocacy and strategy work. 

    Read about our Regional Offices

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