Bill Gates is officially "transitioning" from Microsoft this week, but really, he checked out a long time ago. His Big Hairy Vision isn't just modernizing the world anymore-it's saving it. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's largest charitable foundation, with a current asset trust endowment of $37.3 billion. Last year, it gave away $2 billion. Its work is divided into three major programs: Global Development, Global Health and United States. It's not your average charity though-and not just because two of its three trustees, Bill and Warren (no last names needed) constantly jockey for the title of world's richest man. It's the smartest. And that's why it just might succeed.
Let's start with the goals of each program. The Global Health program is, no surprise, all about fighting disease, in two ways. One, making vaccines and medicine more readily available. Two, good ol' R&D to develop new vaccines—vaccine development and access takes up half of the Global Health program's money—plus treatments and other higher-tech solutions, the stuff that actually gets Bill excited now.