Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

Summary: Am I just being cynical, or is the timing, scale, and nature of Zuckerberg's donation to Newark Public Schools just a little, well, off?

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Is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, now richer than both Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, just getting in touch with his inner philanthropist? $6.9 billion burning a hole in his 26-year old pocket? He didn't attend the Newark public schools (in fact, he graduated from the Phillips Exeter Academy) and yet this Friday is expected to announce the creation of a foundation for the struggling district on Oprah.

Yes, Oprah.

And yes, Friday. As CNet puts it,

...some critics are pointing out that the timing of the entire announcement is a little too convenient.

Friday...is also the day of the New York Film Festival premiere of "The Social Network," the David Fincher-directed cinematic retelling of Facebook's early days. It's an unflattering portrait of Zuckerberg as a selfish egomaniac, and even worse for Facebook's image, it has been pulling in rave reviews and early Oscar buzz.

I hate to be cynical and there are few districts in the nation that couldn't use an infusion of cash more than Newark. However, the timing of the announcement, coinciding with a high-profile return of district control from the state of New Jersey to the municipality of Newark, on Oprah no less, feels a little too staged.

At the same time, there is serious talk of a Facebook Phone. Although ZDNet Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan doesn't think it will amount to much, what better way to cement the Facebook brand with the young people who made Zuckerberg a billionaire (and who are increasingly looking elsewhere for social media minus their parents) than a huge donation to schools? Perhaps even more importantly, what better way to cement the brand with the parents who represent the fastest-growing group of Facebook users than to make the announcement on Oprah? It's not as if he's announcing it on Jimmy Fallon.

Don't get me wrong. $100 million is $100 million, regardless of motivation. However, I can't help but feel like the Newark Public Schools are being used as a publicity stunt. Do you agree? Talk back below.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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47 comments
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  • Cynicism has a new leader: Dawson.

    $100M donation and all you see is how it benefits Zuckerberg. You probably crapped all over the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a sham just to promote Microsoft Mobile.

    Zuckerberg has a reputation problem for sure, but let's take away the positives from this action. And he does deserve applause.

    By the way, there is no Facebook phone. There may be carrier partnerships and better Facebook apps that coincidentally generate more ad revenue, but there's no hardware coming.
    alsw
    • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

      @alsw<br>I think the amount of the donation is an important consideration that validates it as more than a publicity stunt. $100 Million is a large donation by any standards. If Zuckerberg is worth 6.9B, this donation is nearly 1.5% of his cash; roughly the same as a regular person giving $1,000 to Newark schools. Oprah herself has donated far less - $1.5 Million to Newark schools in the past, see: <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/item_OQ4o9IxaM6VBxERL5NtJCN" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/item_OQ4o9IxaM6VBxERL5NtJCN" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/item_OQ4o9IxaM6VBxERL5NtJCN</a></a>.<br>Again, if it were pennies to him (perhaps a few million dollars) then I might entertain it as a publicity stunt, however, Zuckerberg is putting his money where his mouth is.<br><br>As CEO of <a href="http://www.iSpeech.org" target="_blank">iSpeech</a>, a Newark, NJ based company, I can attest to the situation here. Although Newark has not yet been restored to its early glory, under Cory's lead, it has improved tremendously. I hope this effort will help improve the quality of education in Newark, and I want to sincerely thank Zuckerberg for his generosity.<br><br>-Heath
      hahrens@...
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @hahrens@...
        well, mark said he is donating 100 million,, but the fact is, he donated part of his facebook stock. $100M donation is worth $100M only if facebook is really worth $20 billion....
        So he donated about 2% of his stock, but since facebook is not a public company, you can't say that he actually donated $100M. private company's stock donation? $100M of nothing is nothing. It looks to me as a publicity stunt.
        kadenjang
    • "cheritable (non-profit) foundations"

      @alsw

      It's not the money. It's not the cause. It's not whatever good or bad publicity comes of it, it's all about getting the money OUT of the rich person's hands and into one of these "foundations."

      If people understood the "law" that created these beasts, which are a mechanism for keeping the fake money supply from inflating to infinity like the Wiemar Republic, then they wouldn't be so "cheritable" themselves in their opinions of them.

      BTW Gates is on record as saying the easiest way to fix "global warming" or any problem de jure is to reduce the world population. Think vaccines have any roll there?

      Google up articles about vaccines provided to Africans being laced intentionally with sterilizing agents to reduce women's fertility. The recipients were not told about the "bonus" feature.

      You will notice that anyone who comes across a ridiculously large pile of money suddenly finds "charity" in their heart and up goes the foundation.

      They cannot be allowed to wield the amounts of "money" attributed to them or else the "money" itself would be revealed for what it is: worthless nothingness. The man behind the curtain would be revealed.

      The "foundations" were written into the same laws that set up the federal reserve just for this purpose.

      If you keep shoveling fake money into the maws of commerce on one end, without a way to siphon off those same "dollars" elsewhere where they can be destroyed, you "inflate" your ponzi scheme uncontrollably to rapid collapse.

      The foundations are one very large way to burn off excess federal reserve notes. It happens to be a very public one. All the "charity" crap is cover.

      Sure, the "foundations" seem to dribble some money out for a "worthy cause," but these are not the real reasons behind the concept of these foundations.

      Notice it becomes none other than the government, through it's enforcement arm the IRS, that is the arbiter of what is "good," what is a "charitable cause" or not...

      People like Zuckerburg have no more choice in the matter than the school children in Newark have over their lunch in the cafeteria. You WILL have lunch, and it'll be one of these here three things we've laid out before ya...
      pgit
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @pgit I'd like to talk to you more on this matter. I am honestly very interested in learning more
        clervius
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @pgit Excellent and really convincing my man!
        wufoo
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @pgit Interesting! Never thought it of it that way. Sometimes wondered why so many foundations waste so much money. Now it makes sense. Thanks!
        cjahan2002@...
      • Wow.

        @pgit

        That was some diatribe.

        Another interesting angle is how the BM Gates foundation is run, and where its money is invested. Bill's dad is really cool, too. ;)
        seanferd
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @pgit are you a Randite? if so, please reply.
        jrlr9999
    • And Andrew Carnegie was a nice guy, too.

      God bless him.
      seanferd
  • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

    Bill Gates wealth is $54billion. He didn't acquire that by being nice and generous, and he is not now. Under the guise of charity, like his mate Warren Buffet, he is feathering his own, his family and his own kind's nest. And, Zuckerburg also has a reason other than charity. Wake people and see the real world.
    root12
    • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

      @root12 what is the other reason? giving away money doesnt help you in taking care of your own? I agree there is something behind it, I just want to know what you think it is.
      nickdangerthirdi@...
    • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

      @root12

      You are so right. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try to rid the world of malaria is selfish and self-serving.

      We should just string Gates up unless he promises to give all his money to his kids with a clause that they must waste every penny on hookers and cocaine.
      Regulator1956
  • Every school should have "pubilicity stunt" like this.

    Who cares if it makes its way back to him or not? When you find a "perfect" $100 million gift from a "perfect" benefactor, let me know.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

    Our school district only needs $43M to save 100 teacher's jobs. Can he spare some change?
    William_P
    • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

      @William_P
      Your school district needs nearly half a million dollars per teacher??? Where do you live? I'd like to get my teaching certificate and come work there!
      omb00900@...
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @omb00900@... Yes, that includes their benefits (medical, retirement, etc.)
        William_P
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @omb00900@... thats to the save the jobs dude, not just to pay the teachers, thats taking care of school buildings, paying for teaching supplies ect. and with 100 teachers, I am thinking it probably more than one building...
        nickdangerthirdi@...
      • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

        @omb00900@...
        I suppose the other part besides the salaries could be in operating costs, 100 teachers = 100 classrooms needing maintenance, electricity, etc. In fact, 100 teachers is probably multiple schools worth of teachers and classrooms.
        kevinrs1
  • RE: Why is Mark Zuckerberg donating $100 million to Newark schools?

    People will question the motives of everything he does - he just isn't well-liked by the media.

    And even if he's leveraging this for corporate benefit - so what?
    c_hamoen@...