$100 Million – Mark Zuckerberg’s Gift To Newark

In a splash of television publicity, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, announced on the Oprah Winfrey show on Friday that he is donating $100 million to the public school system of Newark, New Jersey.

Newark Schools – Symbol of Educational Excellence?

When Oprah asked him, “Why Newark?” he responded first that every child deserves a good education, and right now that’s not happening in Newark. Then he added that it’s because he believes in “these guys,” and pointed to New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and Newark mayor Cory Booker, also guests on Oprah’s show. “We are committed to turning Newark into a symbol of educational excellence for the whole country,” Zuckerberg stated.

That’s going to be quite a challenge. Currently, about half of Newark’s students never graduate from high school, even though the city spends more money per student than any other major city in the U.S. In fact, the Newark schools have been deeply troubled for some time and have been under state control since 1995.

Private Donations to Public Schools

Since private donations to public schools generally have some strings attached, what’s behind the scenes in Newark? Governor Christie explained to Oprah, “Mayor Booker will be our point person. I’m empowering him to do that, with a schools superintendent that we will pick together.” The goal is to create “a new model for our nation’s schools,” Christie declared.

This approach of turning over the schools to the mayor is already being tried in several other urban school districts, such as Chicago and New York. It’s still too early to assess how well this system is working, but educators may worry that more charter schools and merit pay are in the future.

What’s in it for Zuckerberg?

Since the Facebook founder was recently placed at #35 on the Forbes list of richest Americans, with his almost $7 billion fortune, he probably won’t miss that $100 million too much. (Newark public schools, on the other hand, with a budget of $940 million, will be delighted.) Still, as a teacher, I applaud the focus on education that such gifts provide, as well as the money, of course.

But is it all about philanthropy? “The Social Network,” a movie about Mr. Zuckerberg is opening in New York next week, and it is rumored that the portrayal of its protagonist is less than flattering. Could there be a connection?

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Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba7 years ago

I'm a user of his social network. That's how I reconnected with my family and friends all over. There's now a movie not entirely factual about his life. Great that he's giving away money and charity to people. He's so rich and everything, gets rich quick that I was wondering if he kept most of his earnings for himself.... I read he's an atheist.

Debra C.
Sean Connors7 years ago

The act of philanthropy is certainly admirable! Now, the point! We as a Nation have troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, (clandestinely in Yemen, Uzbeqhistan, Iran, Angola, Republic of Congo and Darfur), Colombia, Philipines, Japan, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Taiwan (to mention the big ones). We encourage our children to join the Armed Forces to "get an Education". What the hell are we creating! A Global Police Force!!!! Now if we took the Dept of Defense Budget, trimmed it to lean and mean, used 1/3 of of the money for humanitarian and technological assistance around the world and the other 2/3 of the money to advance education in our country and rebuild infrastructure, using our young people as our greatest assets, wouldn't we be much better off. You see, in my Opinion, we need to get out of the Killing Business and into the good Global Citizen Business, eliminate the Marine Corps and Restart the Peace Corps. The Education Process will fix itself when we stop focusing on invading and subjugating people.

liz j.
liz j7 years ago

Great, now the same contribution for world hunger and for animal welfare. He still would not notice the money..

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

Thank this MAN for doing what our government should be doing. Children are our future and currently we seem to be throwing that future away with poor education. This young man seems to have more insight into the future than many older millionaires and billionaires. Now if only this money is used wisely and not wasted.

jodi m.
jodi m7 years ago

He should spread the money around to several schools or specific programs or consider animal welfare as well.. he's certainly got it to go around! :) but good on him for doing it

Melissah Chadwick
Melissah C7 years ago


Dean P.
Dean P7 years ago


Dean P.
Dean P7 years ago

Thats great!! Wished there was more corporate ig dogs with a generous heart!!

Tamila mendoza
Tamila mendoza7 years ago

The kid is awesome...

Maureen Cohen
Maureen Cohen7 years ago

Awesome! twice that gift is what is needed for the cure of SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, #1 genetic killer of children under 2, 1 out of 40 people carry the gene, and the genetic disease closest to the cure, as close as 5 years. It's wonderful how the wealthiest people are starting to care for noble and needy causes!