News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 10 (tied): Mark Zuckerberg

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom

Mark Zuckerberg

Amount donated in 2010: $100-million

Beneficiary: Startup: Education

Donor’s background: Mr. Zuckerberg co-founded the social-networking Web site, Facebook, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Mr. Zuckerberg, 26, has pledged $100-million worth of Facebook stock to establish his foundation, Startup: Education, which he plans to donate over five years. The foundation will support programs that are working to improve public schools in Newark, N.J. Details about how much of the pledge Mr. Zuckerberg put into the foundation in 2010 were not available.

The commitment is significant because it is the largest known donation by an American of Mr. Zuckerberg’s generation. Furthermore, Mr. Zuckerberg has no personal connection to Newark or to New Jersey. He grew up in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and mostly attended private schools before attending Harvard and then famously dropping out to start Facebook.

Yet witnessing his girlfriend Priscilla Chan’s experiences as a teacher working in public schools under the Teach for America program, Mr. Zuckerberg started thinking about the country’s public-education system. He then spent about a year studying education issues. Then last July, he met Cory Booker, Newark’s mayor at a conference and the two got to talking about Mr. Booker’s success at slashing the city’s crime rate and the 41-year-old mayor’s desire to improve Newark’s school system.

Inspired, Mr. Zuckerberg says he recalls thinking, “This is the guy I want to invest in. This is a real person who can create this change.”

— Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.