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Facebook Creator to Give $100 Million to Newark Schools

Plans to announce gift with Christie, Booker on Oprah tomorrow

Thursday, Sep 23, 2010  |  Updated 10:23 AM EDT
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg just "friended" the entire Newark Public School System.

Zuckerberg has agreed to donate $100 million to improve the long-troubled school system and he'll challenge others to match his generosity to the city's schools, according to The New York Times.

The donation is watershed for both Mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie, who were facing the loss of a $400 million in federal education grants due to a clerical error last month.

The state took over Newark’s schools in 1995 after deeming them a failure. Still, the school system continues to have problems. Its test scores and graduation rates are among the lowest in the state. Considering those stats in tandem with the fact Newark public school teachers are the highest paid in the state, critics say the money should be used wisely.

Beyond that, the reason for the donation is somewhat mysterious. Zuckerberg has no known connection to Newark. A Westchester County native, he lives in California and is America’s second-youngest self-made billionaire with a worth of $6.9 Billion, according to Forbes.

He ranked No. 35 on the Forbes 400, released Wednesday, and moved ahead of Apple CEO Steve Jobs ($6.1 billion).

Zuckerberg, Christie and Booker are set to make their announcement on the Oprah Winfrey Show this Friday. Christie is also expected to end the 15 years of state control of Newark's schools, placing the education system in the hands of Booker.

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