Think Wider, Mr. Zuckerberg

by Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund President and CEO

Having grown up in Kearny, N.J., including spending time working in Newark summer school programs, I applaud Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million pledge to Newark’s troubled school system.

An influx of cash and the publicity that accompanies high-profile donations may be just the infusion Newark needs to refocus on the education and well-being of its most precious resource — its children.

So kudos to you, Mr. Zuckerberg, and to your newly minted Startup: Education foundation. You are starting strong by reaching out to some of our country’s most overlooked children. Only about half of Newark’s students graduate high school.

We see those same low graduation rates among discouraged children in Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and South Dakota, where ChildFund has worked for decades, assisting young people and families in some of the most impoverished communities in America.

In ChildFund’s work around the world, we see children forced to support their families rather than attend school. We encounter schools held under trees because there is no supporting infrastructure for education. We meet girls who don’t attend school because there’s no running water or toilets, and the bushes nearby offer no privacy.

It’s a complex world with many needs — just as you’re discovering, Mr. Zuckerberg, as you rapidly expand Facebook internationally.

With more than 500 million users now on Facebook, obviously you’re thinking broadly when it comes to business.

I encourage you to think even wider as a philanthropist.

Some 70 percent of Facebook users are signing on from outside the United States.

Don’t forget to consider that wider world, Mr. Zuckerberg. Let’s talk.

2 responses to “Think Wider, Mr. Zuckerberg

  1. Amen! I hope the NJ initiative was just the start of Mr. Zuckerberg’s career as a philanthropist. Let’s hope he follows in the footsteps of the Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. There is so much good that can be done in the world through the support of programs aimed at long-term development and not only short-term aid.

  2. I agree that Mark Zuckerberg did a good thing by donating a $100 million. As much as I would like the fact that U.S. students of poor families now can concentrate more on school, I wish Mr. Zuckerberg would do the same for students outside the county. It would be wonderful if he could help out with Sundanese victims of Darfur. I just saw independent film “Attack On Darfur” and am shocked at how bad it is over there.