Facebook founder lends a handMark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of the social networking site Facebook, has agreed to donate $100 million to help improve the public schools of Newark, N.J.
Test scores and graduation rates in Newark’s public schools are among the lowest in the state. The school district has approximately 39,000 students, and has been controlled by the state for 15 years, due to underperformance. The donation will allow Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker a larger role in running the schools.
Zuckerberg announced the donation Friday morning on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Booker, as well as in a press conference on Friday. “I’m putting some of my Facebook stock into a foundation,” said Zuckerberg in the press conference.
“The foundation will then sell it off to raise cash, and then the cash will be used to fund the project, and the plan that the governor and the mayor are putting together, contingent on getting the results that we want to get and on getting the matching $100 million as well,” he added
According to the New York Times, Zuckerberg met Booker at a conference in July about the mayor’s plans for the city, and has been planning the donation since their initial meeting.
The 26-year-old billionaire, who grew up in Westchester County, New York, currently resides in California. He has no personal connection to Newark. He is the 35th-richest American, according to Forbes magazine, which estimated his fortune at $6.9 billion in August – up $4.9 billion from last year. Zuckerberg said the donation was made to help provide others with the education he was given.
“I started Facebook when I was in college, at a great university,” said Zuckerberg, in an interview on Oprah. “And I have no doubt that if I hadn’t had that opportunity that I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” he added. Zuckerberg attended public school, then boarding school, and finally an Ivy League university.
Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 from his college dorm room. He started developing the social networking site with two friends while studying computer science at Harvard University.
Today, Facebook has more than 500 million active users, according Facebook’s press room, with about 70 percent of users outside of the United States. The average user has 130 friends, and posts 90 pieces of content each month. The corporation’s value has been estimated at $34 billion.
In August, people spent a total of 41.1 million minutes, or about 9.9 percent of their Web-surfing time for the month on Facebook, according to comScore, a research company that tracks Internet activity. In the same month, people spent 39.8 million minutes on all of Google Inc.’s sites including, YouTube, Gmail, and all other content sites.
Zuckerberg continued added that Facebook was a huge risk when he founded it, but that it payed off in the end.
“Move fast, take risks. It’s okay to try big things. You’re better off trying something and having it not work, and learning from that than not having done anything at all,” he said.
The large donation was announced just days before the debut of “The Social Network,” a film about the creation of Facebook that portrays the founder’s story and the story of other people involved.
Due to the timing of the movie’s release, Zuckerberg said he considered making the donation anonymous to avoid appearing to soften the blow of “The Social Network.”
During the press conference, Booker said there were “some tense moments” while discussing the timing of the announcement.”The movie actually became a complication, because Mark’s team did not think that it would be good for him to make an announcement during this time,” he said. Of the movie, Zuckerberg said, “It’s a movie, it’s fun. A lot of it is fiction, but even the filmmakers will say that. They’re trying to build a good story. This is my life, so I know it’s not that dramatic.”
He added, “The last six years have been a lot of coding and focus and hard work. But maybe it would be fun to remember it as partying and all this crazy drama, so who knows, maybe it will be a good story.”
Michelle Williams can be reached at email@example.com