Zuckerberg, wife gift $120 million to Bay Area schools

Friday, May 30, 2014
FILE -- Mark Zuckerberg, right, president and CEO of Facebook, walks with his wife Priscilla Chan. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
FILE -- Mark Zuckerberg, right, president and CEO of Facebook, walks with his wife Priscilla Chan. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- Local school districts are 'liking' Facebook and its CEO today following word that Mark Zuckerberg plans to donate millions of dollars to help struggling schools do better.

Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced in an essay published in the San Jose Mercury News that they are committing $120 million to schools through their charity for underserved communities in the Bay Area.

"Education is something worth investing in and if we can help make things better it will make all of our lives better," Zuckerberg wrote.

The first $5 million will go to high need communities in San Francisco, the Redwood City School District and Facebook's neighbors, the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park.

Superintendent Doctor Gloria Herndandez-Goff is grateful for the help. She says most families in the area face many challenges, including living below the poverty line, language issues and a lack of access to technology.

"Our students are every bit capable to compete at any level. Again we just need access and tools," said Herndandez-Goff.

And they're getting the tools. Last August, Facebook gave away about 400 Macbook Pro laptops to all 8th grade students in the Ravenswood School District, including Cesar Chavez Academy. Zuckerberg says this first $5 million grant will help provide computers and connectivity in schools as well as teacher training and parent outreach.

"I'm thinking that it's creating a better environment here. We're no longer behind in technology. We're moving forward. I think overall there's a good chemistry between Facebook and ourselves here in East Palo Alto," said Xen Rhone, Cesar Chavez Academy teacher.

"Nowadays everything is done on a computer. If you want to apply for a job you have to do it on a computer or online. A lot of what's done here is that they prepare these kids for the real world," said Aracely Vasquez, parent.

The rest of the $120 million will be distributed over the next five years. An interesting note, it's not just money coming from Mark Zuckerberg, he also volunteers his time. ABC7 News found out he taught student workshops in the Ravenswood City School District and even mentors three to four students a year.