WASHINGTON, D.C. - Bill and Melinda Gates are in the spotlight again -- this time, as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The White House described the Presidential Medal of Freedom as the nation’s “highest civilian honor.” It recognizes people who have made significant contributions to national interests, world peace and other public or private endeavors.

“It’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Barack Obama said in a White House announcement released today.

Obama named 21 recipients, which included leaders of a variety of industries ranging from entertainment to STEM.

The Gates are being honored for the contributions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which they launched in 2000 to help people lead healthier lives in developing countries and the U.S. According to the White House release, the Gates Foundation has donated $36 billion in grants.

Some celebrity names on the list include Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jordan and Tom Hanks. Obama also named Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet Tribal community leader, and Richard Garwin, a polymath physicist, as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The awards ceremony will be streamed live from the White House on Nov. 22 at www.whitehouse.gov/live.