Bill Gates published his fifth annual letter today and wrote that accurate measurements and clear goals are the keys to improving the lives of poor people around the world.

Gates’ letter highlights progress with the education in the United States to the prenatal health care in Ethiopia. He emphasizes the of the importance of setting goals and using the right measurements to achieve them.

“I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition,” he writes. “…In previous annual letters, I’ve focused a lot on the power of innovation to reduce hunger, poverty, and disease. But any innovation — whether it’s a new vaccine or an improved seed — can’t have an impact unless it reaches the people who will benefit from it.

That’s why in this year’s letter I discuss how innovations in measurement are critical to finding new, effective ways to deliver these tools and services to the clinics, family farms, and classrooms that need them.”

He uses examples from Colorado, Ethiopia and Nigeria to show how gathering and organizing data with increasing speed and money is making a difference. The Microsoft co-founder also touches on how polio is close to being eradicated from the world and how new advances in measuring teacher effectiveness are providing opportunities to improve education.

Gates also wrote about the United Nations-created Millennium Development Goals as an example of how the world can make changes with the right goals in place.

“While we won’t reach all of the goals, the progress we’ve made toward each is staggering,” Gates said in a press release. “The MDG target of reducing extreme poverty by half has been reached ahead of the deadline, as has the goal of halving the proportion of people who lack access to safe drinking water.”

Gates is encouraging others to speak up and contribute ideas for how to improve the world for the next generation. You can help him out by submitting your idea on the Hopes for 2030 Facebook page.

Previously on GeekWire: Bill Gates says you should read these 5 books in 2013

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • guest

    I really wish Bill would step down as Chairman of MS. Because every time he talks about issues like this, even when he’s making otherwise decent points, it’s hard not to think about how badly he has ignored those back at MS. His comments about business and competition in this letter, for example, are not only inaccurate in some cases, they would also lead to some embarrassing questions when applied to MS.

  • Greg Linden

    I find it frustrating that Bill Gates talks about measurement “to determine which approaches work and which do not”, but his advocacy for changes in US K-12 education does not appear to be based on data.

    Bill Gates says “the most critical change we can make in U.S. K–12 education, with America lagging countries in Asia and Northern Europe when it comes to turning out top students, is to create teacher-feedback system.” He goes on to say the reason it is the most critical change is that “the system is likely one reason why student test scores have improved in Eagle County over the past five years.”

    You can see the Eagle County test score data (go to, look up the name [eagle], then click the district level selection) for the last three years. The data says reading was slightly up (from 70% to 73%) and math was flat. While I am a supporter of some teacher-feedback systems, it is not at all clear how this data shows teacher evaluation as implemented in Eagle County is the “most critical” thing for K-12 education.

    My understanding is that the data clearly shows that poverty is the most critical problem (see table 6 on page 15 of, which shows that, excluding poverty stricken schools, US schools perform better than other OECD countries) and that 2/3rds of the achievement gap for students in poverty is summer learning loss (see

  • Cyrus Akbari

    Bravo Mr.Bill Gates, You are very useful in life for all people in the world.

Job Listings on GeekWork