Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife are pledging $120 million to help failing schools in the San Francisco area.
Improving the quality of education is something Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, “both really care about,” he wrote earlier this week in an op-ed published by the Bay Area News Group.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to support so many amazing educators, leaders, and entrepreneurs in the years ahead to create schools where students thrive,” Zuckerberg wrote in the op-ed Thursday. “Education is something worth investing in and if we can help make things better it will make all of our lives better.”
The funds will be allotted to schools throughout the next five years. Their commitment will present resources to educators that encourage innovation in classrooms and will support students in under-served communities.
The first $5 million will provide training for teachers, parent outreach, and computers to schools in high-need communities throughout the couple’s local Bay Areas, according to Zuckerberg. They will also contribute to assisting leadership opportunities for students and training for administrators.
“We’ve seen firsthand that the quality of education, it really varies in our area, from the highest performing schools to the most under-served of schools,” Chan told the TODAY Show’s Savannah Guthrie on Friday during her first-ever TV interview.
The couple will also work to establish new district and charter schools to allow more high-quality choices for education, as well as listen to local educators and community leaders to understand the needs of students, he wrote.
“When you’re growing up and you’re the first generation to go to college, you don’t know what the potential possibilities are until someone believes in you and says, ‘Hey, you could do that,’” said Chan, the eldest child of two immigrant parents who left their home country in refugee boats. She was the high school valedictorian of her class in Quincy, Mass.
Zuckerberg and Chan previously supported improving education in Newark, N.J., and the couple has invested in bringing computers and Internet access into K-12 public schools. They met while studying at Harvard University and married in May 2012.
“The investments we’ve made are a drop in the bucket compared to the challenges schools face,” Zuckerberg wrote.