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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, wife pledge $120 million to Bay Area schools



Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, will donate $120 million to Bay Area schools serving needy students over the next five years.

Zuckerberg and Chan made the announcement Thursday in an opinion piece published by the San Jose Mercury News. While the couple did not detail how all the money would be spent, they did write that an initial $5 million donation would support the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, the Redwood City School District and other “high need communities” in San Francisco.

In her first-ever television interview, Chan, a pediatric resident at the University of California at San Francisco and a former teacher, told the Today Show: “We’ve seen firsthand that the quality of education, it really varies in our area – from the highest-performing schools to the most underserved of schools.”

Those first grants, which will be administered through the couple’s nonprofit, Startup: Education, will pay for computers and connectivity at schools along with technology training for teachers and parents. The donation also will pay for the development of “leadership opportunities” for students; middle school to high school student transition programs; and leadership training for principals.

Zuckerberg and Chan also wrote that they plan on forming partnerships to create new district and charter schools that give families more “high quality choices” for their children’s education. Ultimately, the pair said they hope to “understand the needs of students that others miss,” and provide financial support to spur innovation in the classrooms of so-called underserved communities.

“Education is incredibly expensive and this is a drop in the bucket,” Chan told the Associated Press. “What we are trying to do is catalyze change by exploring and promoting the development of new interventions and new models.”

This latest gift to help struggling schools comes as criticism mounts regarding Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to the Newark Public School District in New Jersey in 2010. An article in the New Yorker this month detailed how the funds, which were apparently used primarily to pay contractors and consultants, have seemingly done little to shore up the chronically low-performing Newark schools.

Chan responded to that criticism during the Today Show interview by saying the couple has made “long term bets” that will need many years to “pan out.”

For his part, Zuckerberg told the Associated Press that he and Newark leaders should have spent more time talking with the community about how to use the money.

“I think one of the things that we took away from this is that we wanted to do our next set of work in a place where we can engage more directly with the community and a place that we care about a lot. The Bay Area just fit that well,” Zuckerberg said.

 

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2 Responses to “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, wife pledge $120 million to Bay Area schools”

  1. Jill Cooper said

    on November 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    As a resident of the Bay Area, a parent of children that will attend public schools, and a child and teen psychotherapist, I was very pleased to read of Zuckerberg and Chan’s contribution to the Bay Area schools. There are some huge discrepancies among schools on the Peninsula, and I believe all children deserve access to a good education. Some schools are in dire need of resources. We need to take care of our teachers by paying them what they deserve, and we need to provide quality education and resources for all of the children in our community regardless of their zip code. The more we can educate children and give them opportunities, the better it is for the children, the future of the children and our communities, and our country.

  2. Educator said

    on June 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I encourage everyone to read the New Yorker article. It’s long, but well worth it and it reads like a novel.

    Chan says that the couple made “long term bets,” but the problem that educators face and get upset with is that there is no long term for them. The argument “kids can’t wait” applies to teachers and schools, so states are implementing policies to fire people and close schools because kids can’t wait, but here Chan argues when things fell apart in Newark that it’s a long term bet.

    Still, I’d rather have more money rather than less money go to schools and students. I just wish there was some humility on the part of non educators trying to do education. Does anyone realize that education high poverty high trauma students is incredibly difficult?

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