Hot on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg being revealed by Forbes as the 35th richest American, the 26-year-old Facebook Founder & CEO has announced that he will donate $100 million to the Newark, NJ public school system, marking the first part of a foundation intended to improve the country’s education.
Zuckerberg will announce his triple digit million contribution tomorrow (Fri. Sep 24) on The Oprah Show, where he’s to be joined by Newark City Mayor Cory A. Booker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
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The New York Times broke news of Zuckerberg’s educational fund shortly before Forbes revealed that the Facebook founder and CEO had climbed to the 35th position on its annual list of wealthy Americans. Forbes estimates that Zuckerberg is now worth $6.9 billion, putting him seven spots above Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is estimated to be worth $6.1 billion, ranking 42 on Forbes’s list.
Some will call the donation calculated. The timing of the announcement is in sync with the October 1 release of The Social Network, based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, neither of which portrays Zuckerberg in the most favorable manner. The donation could also be aimed at counteracting any negative stigma that could arise from his new rank on the Forbes 400.
The fact of the matter is that Mark Zuckerberg just donated $100 million of his own personal wealth to one of the country’s worst school systems. This is the sort of philanthropy that we see from the likes of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates; frankly, it’s amazing to have someone else with the ability to contribute at that level to that field. Ideally, we should be able to take the gesture at face value and not taint it with speculation.