Last month, we wrote about an amazing act of group philanthropy on the part of 40 American billionaires. Now, something equally amazing is happening to Brick City’s struggling education system, a system that boasts some of the worst test scores and lowest graduation rates in the United States, and where student protests received nationwide attention when Gov. Christopher J. Christie cut state aid to schools.
Last night, it was announced that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will donate $100 million to help struggling, predominantly Black, Newark, NJ public schools, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal writes:
Mr. Zuckerberg is setting up a foundation with $100 million of Facebook stock to be used to improve education in America, with the primary goal of helping Newark.
The donation has the potential to be matched by another $100 million that Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, has been working on raising from private foundations and others. […]
The $200 million that could be raised would amount to over 20% of Newark’s budget of $940 million.
Zuckerberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker are expected to announce the CEO’s gift on the Oprah Winfrey Show this Friday. His pledge of up to $100 million in initial money can be matched, presumably by a Booker-led fundraising effort. Taken together, the announcement could mean a $200 million infusion into the Newark schools. Wow.
According to the New York Times, Zuckerberg’s donation coincides with a leadership change: “Gov. Chris Christie will cede some control of the state-run system to Mayor Cory A. Booker in conjunction with the huge gift.” Despite 15 years of state control, the Newark schools have test scores and graduation rates that are among the lowest in New Jersey.
Zuckerberg grew up in Westchester, attended Harvard University, and now lives in California–so why pick Newark? Zuckerberg has “no particular connection to Newark,” says the New York Times, “But in July he and Mr. Booker met at a conference and began a continuing conversation about the mayor’s plans for the city, according to people familiar with their relationship.”
The founding of Facebook is the focus of a forthcoming and highly-anticipated film, “The Social Network.”