Today Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.com, donated $100 million to the Newark public school systems and before the announcement was even officially made, the critics were out for blood. The New York Post reported the story of his donation by calling Zuckerberg a “conniving backstabber who may have stolen the idea for his social networking site.” New York Magazine called it the “PR move of the month.” And many are speculating that this was only done to improve his social image and erase some of the ill will that has befallen him since it was announced by the Forbes 400 that he was the 35th wealthiest person in America. The Wall Street Journal even states that Zuckerberg has “learned the offsetting PR value of philanthropy.”
Are we really going to encourage people to do good deeds when this is how we treat them? Mark Zuckerberg is donating $100 MILLION to the Newark public school system! I feel like I need to keep repeating that, lest anyone forget. Yes, we live in a cynical society because we’ve been privy to the dirty underbelly of the wealthy, powerful and political and maybe I’m being overly optimistic and naïve when wanting to believe and see the best in people. I really do feel that Zuckerberg is doing a great thing for the educational system in Newark because no matter what, those children are going to benefit.
When he made his announcement on today’s Oprah Winfrey Show, Zuckerberg said, “I’ve committed to the startup education foundation whose first project will be a $100 million project grant.” Oprah had to actually urge her audience to give a standing ovation but I think that had more to do with shock then disrespect. “Every child deserves a good education. I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life and a lot of that comes from having gone to really good schools and I just want to do what I can to make sure that everyone has those same opportunities,” Zuckerberg continued. He said he chose Newark because he “really just believes in these guys,” referring to Newark Mayor Cory Booker. “Being good in business is about finding really great leaders and investing in them.” Zuckerberg said that his overall goal is to turn Newark into a symbol of educational excellence and Oprah let Zuckerberg know that all eyes will be on Newark. She also informed the audience that she actually had to convince Mark Zuckerberg to go public with his donation, something he had originally wanted to do anonymously!
Whether or not you believe he did this altruistically or with ulterior motives, at least we can agree that this will change the educational landscape of public schools and possibly inspire other financial leaders to step up and give back to our educational systems all across the country.