Mark Zuckerberg Details Newark Schools’ Progress Since 2010 Donation

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the school system in Newark, N.J., in 2010. Five years later, what have the results been?

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the school system in Newark, N.J., in 2010. Five years later, what have the results been?

Zuckerberg offered an update in a Facebook post last week, and the social network also provided the following key statistics in an email to SocialTimes:

  • Graduation rates in Newark have increased 13 percentage points–up from 56 percent to 69 percent–a large increase in just a few years. We expect this rate to continue increasing as more students go through improved schools. That’s a real improvement in many people’s lives.
  • Parents in Newark have more high-quality public school choices than before since Newark’s charter schools now rank as the second-highest performers in the nation. Many parents now choose schools other than their assigned neighborhood schools to best meet their child’s needs–and they can do this because of new schools and greater choice.
  • The new teacher contract is already making a difference for students by helping to keep the best teachers. Last year, 95 percent of the best Newark teachers stayed in the district.
  • Newark was just ranked in the top five urban school districts by the respected Center on Reinventing Public Education on “beating the odds”–meaning it has significantly more schools where students’ results beat others of similar backgrounds.

Zuckerberg’s post is embedded below, and highlights include:

No effort like this is ever going to be without challenges, mistakes and honest differences among people with good intentions. We welcome a full analysis and debate of lessons learned. But it is important that we not overlook the positive results.

We’ve learned a lot of lessons from this project that we are already applying to our next major effort in the San Francisco Bay area:

It’s very important to understand the desires of a community and to listen and learn from families, teachers, elected officials and other experts. We now better understand why it can take years to build the support to durably cement the changes needed to provide every student with a high-quality education.

In our ongoing focus on personalized learning, our goal is to work with everyone–district schools, charters, private schools, teachers, parents, unions and other philanthropists. Everyone benefits from personalized learning, and we’ll serve students best if everyone is behind the effort.

Change in education takes time and requires a long-term focus. We are committed to working to improve public education for many years to come, and to improving our approach as we go.

Priscilla (Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan) and I have been fortunate to have great educations and supportive families and communities. We want to help make a real difference for all children, and we’ll keep sharing more about what’s ahead.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the progress in Newark? David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.