SEATTLE — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a new effort to encourage savings for the poor with a $500 million pledge.

Melinda Gates announced the pledge today at a global savings forum in Seattle. It will more than double what the foundation has previously committed to projects that help poor people around the world make financial plans for the future – to save for everything from fertilizer to school fees and uniforms.

As part of the $500 million pledge, Gates announced a package of six new grants totaling $40 million. The grants will expand the foundation’s work involving branchless banking and mobile money, and will pay for more research on how people use formal and informal financial tools.