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Bill and Melinda Gates talk health and education in annual letter

The Gates Foundation's 2020 letter, "Why we swing for the fences," reflects on the organization's 20-year history.

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Melinda and Bill Gates released their annual letter on Monday.

Frederic Stevens/Getty Images

Bill and Melinda Gates on Monday released their 12th annual letter, titled "Why we swing for the fences," having been inspired by billionaire Warren Buffett. It reflects on how the Gates Foundation has spent $53.8 billion since its formation in 2000. 

The largest part (45%) of the foundation's philanthropy has gone to global development, and nearly a third (29%) has gone to global health, one of the main topics of the letter. The Gateses highlight the progress in making vaccinations more widely available globally and the challenges of fighting HIV (particularly among young women in southern and eastern Africa).

The letter notes that 16% of the money it spent went to US programs, and education was another major topic. It looks at the number of high school students who don't enroll in any form of postsecondary education, and the amount who don't graduate from a college program within six years -- an issue that's more prevalent among Latinx and black students.

The final 10% of the foundation's investment went to other charitable programs. The last two topics for the 2020 letter were climate change -- an issue that Bill Gates in particular is passionate about -- and gender equality, an area Melinda Gates discussed with CNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo last year.

First published at 4:42 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:33 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.

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