Zuckerberg and Chan to Open New Palo Alto School


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has plans to open a nonprofit school with his wife Priscilla Chan that will open in August 2016 and offer full-time schooling for four-year-olds and parent-based activities for infants and two-year-olds.

“The Primary School” will be funded by the Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Donor Advised Fund, allowing students to attend the private institution tuition-free in an effort to offer quality schooling to low-income students.

Located in Palo Alto, California, the school will be open to students between kindergarten and 12th grade who live in East Palo Alto and Belle Haven.  Healthcare services will also be provided for students and their families from birth through graduation through a partnership with Ravenswood Family Health Center.

The center will also provide health and dental care located near the school for students and their families.  A clinic will also be open on school grounds, writes Cathaleen Chen for The Christian Science Monitor.

“I’m so proud of Priscilla for starting The Primary School – a new kind of school that brings education and healthcare together,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “Health and education are closely connected. When children aren’t healthy, they can’t learn as easily.”

Zuckerberg went on to discuss the closeness of health and education, noting how poor health can cause a decrease in the ability to perform well in the classroom.  According to his post, many children throughout the country must handle the “consequences of poor health.”

An integrated health and education model will be used at the school in order to offer healthcare to students and their families.  As a pediatrician, Chan has spent the past few years working with lower-income communities through the transition into high school.  Also a teacher, Chan will serve as the CEO.  “We must address these issues holistically in order to allow children to succeed,” she said in her own Facebook post.

Zuckerberg adds that offering healthcare to underprivileged students will better allow them to reach their full academic potential while attaining new goals.  The school will be able to help 700 students and their families, writes Rituparna Sengupta for International Business Times.

This is not the first broad educational effort by Zuckerberg and Chan.  In 2014, the couple donated $120 million in order to help schools in lower-income areas in the San Francisco Bay area.

Zuckerberg also famously donated $100 million — which was matched for a total of $200 million — to improve schools in Newark, New Jersey. It turned out to be an expensive, albeit instructive, experiment for the philanthropist, as he learned the realities of trying to reform education in the face of laws and entrenched interests.

Reporter Dale Russakoff chronicled the project in her book “The Prize,” saying in an interview with Fortune’s Aaron Task that:

“Zuckerberg didn’t do the due diligence I would have expected he would have done.”