Mark Zuckerberg today went on Oprah and held a telephone press conference to announce the details of his $100 million dollar donation to Newark’s public school system. Zuckerberg said that his reasoning for choosing education was that he was inspired by the example of his grandmother, who was a teacher, and by the fact that good high school, prep school, and college-level schooling helped make him who he is (even though he dropped out of Harvard).
The initiative will be funded with $100 million worth of Zuckerberg’s own Facebook stock, which the foundation will then sell off for cash to fund the schools. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark said that the plan was to spend the money on innovative programs over the next five years.
Though some have questioned the timing of the grant, which coincides perfectly with the release of the damaging film The Social Network, which portrays Zuckerberg as greedy and friendless, Booker and Zuckerberg contested the suggestion that the grant was “an elaborate publicity stunt.” Zuckerberg said he considered making the donation anonymously, but that the mayor managed to convince him otherwise.
When asked what his day-to-day influence over the uses of the money would be, Zuckerberg several times reiterated that he was too busy running Facebook to also run a foundation, and was simply investing in someone who he had faith could make a large impact on an important issue.