Mark Zuckerberg will donate $100 million to Newark’s troubled public school system, it was announced yesterday. To mark the donation, he will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show with Cory Booker and Chris Christie this Friday.
Mr. Zuckerberg is from Westchester county, but Newark’s schools have drawn national attention thanks to their endemic problems, the state’s recent disqualification for federal “Race to the Top” funding due to a clerical error and Mr. Booker being an outspoken proponant of school choice. THR points out that Mr. Booker and Mr. Zuckerberg met at a conference last July, and that Ms. Winfrey has herself donated half a million dollars to one of Newark’s charter schools.
The donation is extremely generous and can’t be belittled in light of how badly the money is needed, but it’s hard not to see an element of public relations in this, as Jesse Eisenberg darkly stares at you on your morning commute, threatening to sell your vacation photos to the highest bidder. The Social Network, opening next Friday with major events planned throughout Manhattan, is expected to be a hit and it’s understandable that Mr. Zuckerburg would want to put a positive, early spin on himself and his company before the movie. He’s already made efforts to promote an extremely pro-Facebook movie ahead of the other film’s release.
For its part, the Times piece on the donation makes no reference to the movie, merely saying, “This would be by far the largest publicly known gift by Mr. Zuckerberg, whose fortune Forbes magazine estimated last year at $2 billion.”