Facebook Creator to Give $100 Million to New Jersey Schools

Plans to announce gift with Christie, Booker on Oprah tomorrow

Thursday, Sep 23, 2010  |  Updated 12:04 PM CDT
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg just "friended" the entire Newark Public School System.

Zuckerberg has agreed to donate $100 million to improve the long-troubled school system, and he'll challenge others to match his generosity to the city's schools, according to The New York Times.  Another source confirmed the donation to the Associated Press.

Beyond that, the reason for the donation is somewhat mysterious. Zuckerberg has no known connection to Newark. A Westchester County native, he lives in California and is America’s second-youngest self-made billionaire with a worth of $6.9 Billion, according to Forbes.

He ranked No. 35 in the Forbes 400 list, released Wednesday, and passed Apple CEO Steve Jobs ($6.1 billion net worth).

The donation could be a well-timed publicity move. "The Social Network," a movie about Facebook's origins written by Aaron Sorkin, will be released on Oct. 1, and initial reviews suggest that Zuckerberg is not portrayed well. A well-timed donation could help bolster a soon-to-be-tarnished reputation for the young billionaire.

Zuckerberg is expected to announce the donation with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker on the Oprah Winfrey Show this Friday.

It's more evidence of the growing popularity of helping public schools with outside money.    

"What you're seeing is for the under-40 set, education reform is what feeding kids in Africa was in 1980," said Derrell Bradford, the executive director of the Newark-based education reform group Excellent Education for Everyone. "Newark public schools are like the new Live Aid."

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