By: Michael Scher
World’s most beloved newborn, Max Zuckerberg, came into the world with open arms with a bright future and civic responsibility beyond likes and comments, to hopefully make the world a better place through her family’s namesake organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
As a penned open letter from social network’s impresario and philanthropist, Mark Zuckerberg and wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, announced on Tuesday, December 1st that they were going to give away 99% of their Facebook shares—roughly $45 billion—during their lifetime to advance their mission. Their goal: to play their part in building a foundation for the next generation. Although Mark is still relatively young at only 30 years of age, he now ranks among the industry’s elite of humanitarians with massive fortunes, who’ve donated their wealth for the greater good of society to bring systemic change such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.
While still maintaining full voting control, Zuckerberg will donate $1 billion over the next three years. Their focus will be to improve in the areas of health, education, advancing human potential and equality, curing diseases, personalized learning, improving technology and building stronger communities.
“We believe all lives have equal value, and that includes the many more people who will live in future generations than live today,” says Zuckerberg and Chan. “Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here.”
Imagine the possibilities if this money was appropriately allocated to benefiting all walks of life from: finding a cure for cancer, AIDS, to even providing preventive measures to help those who are sick (even those without benefits). Not to mention, providing means to all families, backgrounds and children, especially in regards to education. Children in underprivileged communities will be able to gain access to the World Wide Web with a wealth of information at their fingertips from advanced learning tools, new subject content as well as a plethora of resources. And in essence, receive the same benefits as everyone else.
Upon reading this letter, I truly felt there is hope and comfort knowing that those at the top can actually make a difference in the lives of others and ultimately, build a better future for tomorrow (although more Executives need to step up to the plate). In recognition of these issues, the Zuckerberg Chan initiative has set a precedent that timing is of the essence for change. Rather than wait until their daughter gets older, progress must happen NOW.
While many throughout the industry trades have praised their efforts such as BloombergBusiness, Wall Street Journal, conversely the New York Times depicted it as an investment vehicle for Zuckerberg’s L.L.C., where he’ll be able to invest in for-profit companies. Likewise, also recognized as a PR coup, which is perceived far more valuable than his stock valuation.
Yes, he’s obviously going to receive a nice tax write off, which many do during year end appeal donations, but there is more sincerity behind this. Being a father for the first time will enforce him to step out of his shadow and think about others before himself. I firmly believe he wants his daughter’s life and many other children’s lives to live in a world better than they endured today.
Having already been involved in several philanthropic initiatives including donating $100 million to Newark’s school system who desperately lacked the infrastructure and resources, although necessarily didn’t leverage the results they anticipated, the compassion was there.
Deep down inside, I hope their efforts will be a catalyst and call-to-action for impending entrepreneurs, well-to-do families and individuals to give back because it’s the right thing to do. And in order for change and progress to come to fruition within our communities, we must all play our part even if it necessarily doesn’t appear as funding. I sincerely hope that Max will continue the Zuckerberg Chan legacy and build upon this altruistic foundation that provides hope, change, opportunity and inclusion for the world over.
“Having this child made us think about all the things that should be improved in the world for whole generations,” said Mark Zuckerberg.
“We need to make sure there are investments and programs that ensure the future isn’t going to be like today. The future is going to be better than today,” said Dr. Priscilla Chan.