By Amy Sahba and Doug Gross, CNN
September 23, 2010 12:53 p.m. EDT
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s donation will help troubled Newark schools, which have been taken over by the state.
(CNN) — One of America’s richest and youngest is giving back.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive of social-networking powerhouse Facebook, is planning on donating $100 million toward improving public schools in the troubled district of Newark, New Jersey.
The gift would be the largest known charitable donation by Zuckerberg, who Forbes magazine says is the 35th richest person in the United States with an estimated net worth of nearly $7 billion.
At 26, he and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz are the youngest billionaires on the list.
The news comes just over a week before "The Social Network," a brutal (and, admittedly, fictionalized) biopic chronicling the early days of Facebook, is set to be released. By all accounts, the film doesn’t cast Zuckerberg in a positive light, leading some critics to accuse him of making the donation as an image-booster.
Unbelievable! A Palo Alto resident giving money to undeserving non-Palo Alto kids! Doesn’t he realize all the unfunded needs in Palo Alto’s schools? Why, there are Palo Alto high school students whose parents can’t afford to send them to college! Why isn’t he helping them?
Besides, look at how much bang for the buck a donation to Palo Alto schools creates. Take a look at what Palo Alto Partners in Education plans to do with this years’ fundraising.
Can you imagine what Palo Alto could do with ten million to spend on science enrichment? They could build a scale working model of SLAC at every single one of the elementary schools! For Technology Mentors, this kind of cash they could bring in Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison for three days to each of the middle schools! And can you imagine the College Counseling for ten million dollars? That would pay for a charter jet to bring in the Presidents of all eight Ivy League schools. They could meet with every single high school student so every one of them would know which school was the best fit (and appropriate fees sent to the schools’ Development Departments for a win-win). The remainder of the funds could pick up the Limo fees and restaurant tabs for John Hennessy.
Money for Newark schools will go for textbooks, calculators and asbestos removal. Big Yawn.
PIE raised $2.9 million for Palo Alto schools for the 2010 school year. Zuckerberg could have totally eclipsed last year’s performance by sending that donation where it belonged… where he lives. Instead, he blew the whole wad on a failing school district in a completely different state! I mean, seriously, if you’re going to donate to New Jersey schools, why not Tenafly?
Do you see why Zuckerberg went wrong? He’s 26 and he doesn’t have any children of his own. Hopefully his priorities will change once he enrolls a couple of Facebook heirs into their neighborhood school. But first, he’s going to have to take an even more important step and buy a house.
Zuckerberg has found all his homes on Craigslist. His first place was a sparse one-bedroom apartment that a friend described as something like a “crack den.” The next apartment was a two-bedroom, followed by his current place, a two-story, four-bedroom house that he told me is “too big.” He rents. (“He’s the poorest rich person I’ve ever seen in my life,” Tyler Winklevoss said.)
He rents. That means he’s a transient guest. He isn’t abiding with the Real Bay Area spirit and sinking a pile of money into a house! More importantly, he had a golden opportunity to show his commitment to the community. Instead, by donating to the wrong school district, he’s appeared on Oprah. But there is one ray of sunshine:
According to an official familiar with the agreement, Zuckerberg’s donation will be the first installment from a foundation financed by Zuckerberg and focused on bettering education.
The first installment. See, it isn’t too late to send the money where it’s most needed.