Facebook founder is subject of new movie; donates $100 million to Newark schools

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, is expected to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show today, announcing his $100 million donation to the Newark, NJ public school system, which has been described as one of the country's weakest. 

This is the largest philanthropic donation by someone Zuckerberg's age - 26, according to CNBC.com's Media Money columnist Julia Boorstin. Facebook is not publicly traded so it is impossible to identify how many shares would comprise Zuckerberg's gift. 

Zuckerberg met Newark Mayor Cory Booker in July at a news conference, according to voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post. Booker is trying to match the donation with money from private foundations. The paper said that if successful, the combined $200 million would represent one fifth of the city's $940 million budget.

Zuckerberg is not a product of Newark schools, where only half of the student body graduates from high school. He graduated from the tony Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University. The timing of his donation comes just before the opening of "The Social Network," Sony Pictures Entertainment's film about the founding of Facebook.

The New York Post described the film depiction of Zuckerberg as "a conniving backstabber who may have stolen the idea for his social networking site."

But Arianna Huffington said the donation is the story, not the motivation behind it. "I really don't care why Mark Zuckerberg is donating $100 million of his own money that will make a profound difference to the lives of Newark's children. I care very much that it's being done -- that one of America's worst school systems will be getting a massive infusion of funds," she wrote on huffingtonpost.com.

Only one in five students in Newark graduates to a four-year college and of those who go on to a community college, a whopping 85 percent need help in remedial English and math. 

On CNN.com's CNN Tech page, Pete Cashmore said skeptics questioning Zuckerberg's timing should not underestimate the impact the donation will have on public schools and on the technology industry.

"Zuckerberg's donation should be praised, as it will likely provide inspiration to the growing ranks of newly-minted technology founders," Cashmore said.

Huffington says donations like Zuckerberg's - not $10 million but $100 million - are what is needed today.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded nearly $5 billion to K-12 education. Last year, it awarded $100 million to Tampa's Hillsborough County School District to overhaul how teachers are trained and evaluated, according to the New York Post.

The $100 million to Newark public schools may be the first donation in an education foundation that Zuckerberg is reported to be establishing. Forbes estimates that Zuckerberg is number 35 on its list of the 400 richest Americans. He has a net worth of $6.9 billion, surpassing that of Steve Jobs, who is number 42 on the list.

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