The Ballmer Group, the chief philanthropic vehicle of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, has committed $10 million to UW Medicine to help expand and accelerate testing for the novel coronavirus, the Seattle Times reports.
The gift to the UW Medicine Emergency Response Fund will support the efforts of the medical school's virology lab — which has performed more than 70 percent of all COVID-19 tests in Washington state to date — to expand its capacity, a spokesperson told the Seattle Times.
"Testing is the most immediate priority right now as we try to reduce community spread of COVID-19," UW Medicine CEO Paul Ramsey said in a statement. "Private philanthropy, like Connie and Steve Ballmer's extraordinary gift, is critical to expanding testing at the speed and scale required to save lives."
To date, the Ballmer Group has committed a total of $25 million in support of efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the Ballmers contributed $3 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund launched by the Seattle Foundation, which as of last week had raised $14.3 million for Puget Sound-area community-based organizations working to address the impacts of the outbreak in the region; $1 million to All In Seattle, which has raised more than $30 million in ten days in support of at-risk populations and businesses; and $750,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County and Bellevue to provide child care for essential workers.
Earlier this month, the organization awarded grants totaling $1 million to the Los Angeles County's Office of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and to assist low-wage workers and the homeless, the Los Angeles Times reports. Since then, the organization has awarded additional funds in support of efforts to provide child care for first responders, healthcare workers, and workers deemed "essential"; help small business and nonprofit employees access publicly available funds; and address the financial and food insecurity needs of community college students and their families. Steve Ballmer is the owner of the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers franchise.
"[We have] already made some initial grants to address urgent, emerging needs related to the COVID-19 crisis," said Ballmer Group spokesperson Megan Davies in a statement to the Seattle Times, "and [we are] committed also to helping long-term, as we know that families and kids will need support for many months or years."