Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is donating almost $500 million in shares of the world’s largest social network to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
The gift to the nonprofit group, which had $2 billion in assets in 2011, is to “lay a foundation for new projects,” Zuckerberg said yesterday in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
The executive and his wife, Priscilla, signed a pledge two years ago committing the majority of their earnings to charity. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation provides grants for local needs and brings together “diverse groups of problem-solvers” to address them. It also manages corporate and individual charitable funds.
“Mark’s generous gift will change lives and inspire others in Silicon Valley and around the globe to give back and make the world a better place,” Emmett Carson, CEO of the foundation, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “We are pleased and honored that he has chosen to continue to partner with us to help him achieve his philanthropic goals.”
The couple’s first gift focused on education reform in Newark, New Jersey, with a group called Startup: Education. The $100 million donation went toward signing a new teachers contract, opening four new district high schools and 11 new charter schools, Zuckerberg has said.
“Together, we will look for areas in education and health to focus on next,” he said.
Zuckerberg’s fortune is valued at $14.1 billion, making him the 59th richest man in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Facebook rose 3.6 percent to $27.71 yesterday in New York trading. The company has fallen 27 percent since its initial public offering in May.
Alexandra Hollander, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on why Zuckerberg chose the charity.