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.