NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Parents of Newark schoolchildren are wondering what happened to the $100 million that Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg donated to improve the city’s school district.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Zuckerberg agreed to donate the money in September 2010 to help the district, plagued by low graduation rates.
He announced the donation at a news conference while flanked by Gov. Chris Christie and then-Mayor Cory Booker.
“After we make these changes and improve the education system in Newark, I think that it’ll be a symbol that can be replicated across the whole country,” Zuckerberg said at the time.
The money went directly to the Foundation for Newark’s Future, which was put in charge of distributing the funds.
The foundation told CBS 2 most of the $100 million has either been committed or spent.
Tamara Moore and her partner say their five children haven’t benefited from the generous donation.
“I think it’s horrible, actually,” she said.
“My kids, they don’t have any school books. … So my thing is, as a parent, Where is the money going?”
The foundation said more than $82 million has been committed to educational programs and initiatives across Newark, including charter schools.
“I thought that there would be more after-school programs,” said parent George Tillman Jr.
In a statement, a Newark public schools spokesperson said, “We value our educators and their development because we know the impact great teachers have on their students.”
Schools superintendent Cami Anderson, appointed by Christie and backed by Booker, declined an on-camera interview.
Booker’s spokesperson told CBS 2 the now-U.S. senator won’t be commenting either.
Community activist Donna Jackson blames Booker.
“Most of this money went to consultants who are people who are his friends,” Jackson said.
Expenditures are listed online. The foundation says, in some cases, experts were brought in at the request of the Newark public schools to create programs. They also say thousands of books have been donated to school children.
The teachers union has not returned CBS 2’s calls for comment. A representative for Zuckerberg told CBS 2 that not all of the money has been distributed.
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