Newark Schools Are Missing an Opportunity for Huge Facebook Payoff

The $100 million grant to the Newark schools by Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg could have provided a huge windfall with the company’s public offering.

Posted: 02/06/2012 05:41 PM EST
Cory Booker

It seems that Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and the city’s school system might have missed a golden opportunity.

Some years ago, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg gave the Newark school system $100 million of company stock. At that point, Facebook was valued at about $20 billion. Now, the company is valued at something closer to $20 billion.

That might have provided Newark’s schools with a $500 million windfall, something that would help transform the troubled system.

 

However, the website Business Insider reported that at the time the grant was made, the stock was exchanged for cash.

 

The grant, which was announced the fall of 2010, made headlines around the country. Under the arrangement, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie agreed to cede some control of the state-run schools to Mayor Booker.

The Facebook grant represented a celebrated coup for the Newark mayor, who had been appearing throughout the country to meet with business leaders and celebrities to urge them to supply money for the ailing school system in Newark, In fact, one of his most public supporters was Oprah Winfrey, who announced the grant on her television show.

The $100 million targeted for the Newark schools was the first grant provided by the Facebook chairman to start a foundation for education. At the time, it was the largest publicly known grant given by Zuckerman. Fortune magazine estimated Zuckerman’s wealth at $2 billion.

While the system may have missed the opportunity at a huge windfall, at least Mayor Booker and the schools have their $100 million.

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(Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

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