MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $120 million to public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The gift, which the couple discussed Tuesday in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, will be spread over the next five years. It is the biggest allocation to date of the $1.1 billion in Facebook stock the couple pledged last year to the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
"Education is incredibly expensive and this is a drop in the bucket," Chan, a pediatrician, said in an interview at Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters. "What we are trying to do is catalyze change by exploring and promoting the development of new interventions and new models."
The first $5 million of the $120 million will go to the San Francisco, Ravenswood and Redwood City school districts and will focus on principal training, classroom technology and helping students transition from the 8th to the 9th grade. The couple and their foundation, called Startup: Education, determined the issues of most urgent need based on discussions with school administrators and local leaders.
The gift comes at a time when critics are still questioning what became of Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to Newark, New Jersey's public school system. Four years ago, he announced the donation flanked by then-mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. A recent New Yorker article criticizes the donation and the chain of events it set in motion.
While well-intentioned, the money has so far failed to fix the city's ailing school system. The process lacked meaningful community input and much of the money has been spent on high-paid contractors and consultants. Four years later, the money is nearly gone and a lot of people are angry. The story's most poignant quote is from Vivian Cox Fraser, president of the Urban League of Essex County, who said "Everybody's getting paid, but Raheem still can't read."