Newark Teachers Eye Grants From Zuckerberg Donation

By David Cohen Comment

Teachers in the Newark school system have incentive to step up their game — $10,000 worth of incentive, to be exact, in the form of grants to teachers or groups of teachers who create innovative programs in their classroom. But where is the money coming from? Try Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation.

The Wall Street Journal reported the news of the two-year, $600,000 teacher-grant program, and a news conference was held Wednesday featuring Newark Mayor Cory Booker, acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, new Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, and Greg Taylor, new CEO of the Foundation for Newark’s Future, which is managing the gift from Zuckerberg.

Foundation for Newark’s Future has had to deal with its share of controversy, as chief of staff Khaatim Sheerer El did not leave the public school board of Atlanta on a good note. The schools in that southern city dealt with an extensive cheating scandal during his tenure there, although El was not implicated in the matter.

During the press conference, Newark officials reviewed the allocation so far of $6.4 million in grants from Zuckerberg’s gift, which includes the new teacher grants, as well as discussing future plans, the Journal reported, adding that money from the Facebook CEO has also gone toward opening new schools, extending school days, and recruiting teachers.

The Foundation for Newark’s Future is tasked with raising money to match the donation from Zuckerberg, and it has brought in $47 million this far, the Journal reported. Zuckerberg originally announced the donation to the Newark schools on The Oprah Winfrey Show last September.

Newark School Board member Shavar Jeffries told the Journal:

I think they’re just getting started, from what I’ve seen. It’s very important to facilitate opportunities for teachers to be entrepreneurial and use their professional expertise and judgment to meet the needs of the kids.

Readers: Would you like to see Zuckerberg play more of a role in the allocation of the funds he donated to the Newark public schools?