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Facebook Founder Makes US $100m Donation To Schools

Just two months ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, and found himself at dinner with Newark Mayor Cory Booker.  Booker, a charismatic, 41-year-old former Stanford football player, regaled
PTI September 25, 2010 17:01 IST
PTI
Just two months ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, and found himself at dinner with Newark Mayor Cory Booker.  Booker, a charismatic, 41-year-old former Stanford football player, regaled the other guests around the table with stories about how he had moved into one of his crime-ridden city's most dangerous neighborhoods and rode along with police on late-night patrols.

On Friday, Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old Internet tycoon with a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at 6.9 (b) billion US dollars, made his first major charitable donation, pledging 100 (m) million US dollars over the next five years to help Newark's struggling schools.  Zuckerberg made the announcement on Oprah Winfrey's show, where he was joined by the Democratic mayor and New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.  Zuckerberg has no other connection to Newark; he grew up in suburban New York and attended prep school in New Hampshire.  

Booker, who helped dramatically reduce violent crime in his desperately poor city of 280,000 with the aid of cameras and other police equipment paid for with donated money, said he will try to raise an additional 150 (m) million US dollars.  The Newark school system has been plagued by low test scores, high dropout rates and crumbling buildings.  Education experts will be watching closely to see whether the money makes a difference in a district that already spends nearly 24,000 US dollars a year - more than twice the national average - on each of its 40,000 students.  The donation came just ahead of the opening of "The Social Network," a movie that suggests Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from his Harvard classmates.  Zuckerberg said he worried that the contribution would be seen as an attempt to improve his image, and he considered making the donation anonymously.  AP