In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated 18 million shares of the company’s stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. They reported that they would direct money from their foundation fund, then valued at nearly $500 million, to unspecified education and health causes.
Since then, Facebook’s stock price has doubled, so the couple’s original donation is worth nearly $1 billion now, assuming the foundation has sold little or none of the stock. Now they are revealing more details about the priorities for that billion-dollar fund.
Today, a Massachusetts start-up called Panorama Education plans to announce that Mr. Zuckerberg, through his foundation Startup: Education, will co-lead a $4 million round of seed funding to help the company expand its business. Panorama uses surveys of teachers, parents, students and staff to give school districts feedback about various issues and says it is currently working with more than 4,000 schools.
The investment was billed as the first national project backed by Startup: Education, which was started by Mr. Zuckerberg to handle the $100 million donation he made in 2010 to improve education in Newark, N.J., public schools. The bulk of the Newark money was dedicated to low-tech initiatives, such as merit bonuses for high-performing teachers.
Mr. Zuckerberg has also begun distributing some of the newer, $1 billion fund through other nonprofits focused on technology in education. Last week, for example, he joined numerous other tech leaders, including the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, in pledging time and money to Code.org, an organization that is trying to bring computer science education to every school.
Zuckerberg and his wife have pledged to eventually give away half their fortune, which is estimated at $26 billion in Facebook stock alone based on holdings disclosed in Facebook’s most recent proxy statement.