NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Amazon
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education, Global Literacy
OVERVIEW: Jeff Wilke and his wife Liesl do their grantmaking through the Wilke Family Foundation, which was established in 2007. Wilke and Liesl recently helped bankroll the Wilke Lyme Disease Project. They have also supported STEM education and scholarships, as well as global literacy.
BACKGROUND: Jeffrey Allen Wilke graduated from Princeton in 1989 with a B.S.E. in chemical engineering, and went on to get an MBA and an M.S. in chemical engineering from MIT. Wilke was an information technology consultant with Andersen Consulting's financial systems group, and also worked for AlliedSignal. Wilke came to Amazon in 1999 as vice president and general manager of worldwide operations and became the senior vice president of Consumer Business in 2012. In 2016, Wilke was appointed Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Consumer.
HEALTH: Wilke and Liesl, along with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, and the Bay Area Lyme Foundation recently gave $2.13 million to launch of the Wilke Lyme Disease Project at Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology. These funds "will kick-start the first stage of a three-year study that will leverage the tools and technologies of systems biology to understand the fundamentals of Lyme, identify biomarkers, and gain insights about the genomics and proteomics of the infecting Borrelia organism." It is worth noting that this is a personal cause. Liesl Wilke, a writer and novelist, has struggled with Lyme for a decade. The couple through their Wilke Family Foundation have also supported health organizations such as American Diabetes Association, and International Planned Parenthood Federation.
EDUCATION: The couple's education philanthropy so far has included grantees such as computer science education outfit Code.org, MIT's sloan annual fund, Harvey Mudd College's presidential scholar program, a science center at Eastside Preparatory School, and Rainier Scholars, which "cultivates the academic potential of young students of color by offering access to educational opportunities & comprehensive support." STEM education and scholarships appear key for this funder. Speaking of scholarships, the couple has also supported American Indian College Fund. Liesl is a self-described advocate for Native American rights and is a member of the board of trustees for the American Indian College Fund. As well, the couple has recently supported their mutual undergraduate school: Princeton University.
GLOBAL LITERACY: The couple also makes grants to organizations that operate on a global level, especially those that work for literacy. Recent Wilke Family Foundation grantees include Ethiopia Reads, which "collaborates with communities to build schools, plant libraries, train educators, boost literacy, and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives," and Worldreader.org, whose "mission is to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives." Back stateside, the couple has supported Narrative Magazine in San Francisco, a publication for which Liesl has written.
LOOKING FORWARD: Wilke is still very much engaged in business, but perhaps more money will move out of the door in the coming. Liesl's personal battle with Lyme Disease suggests continued support in this area.
The Wilke Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for grantseekers to get in touch with the couple but below is an address
The Wilke Family Foundation
501 Silverside Rd., Ste. 123
Wilmington, DE 19809
LINKS: Liesl Wilke Website