Last week, we were fortunate enough to be able meet with with Andrea Jones, Director of Community Affairs at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. This is an opportunity we have been looking forward to for quite a while and we are very grateful to Andrea for taking the time out of her day to meet with us and answer our questions. As Redwood City residents, we have been curious to learn more about CZI ever since they leased out the majority of the space in the new office complex on Jefferson and Broadway (which remains largely empty due to COVID). But more generally, we’ve been very interested to hear about the work they have been doing as one of the Silicon Valley’s most prominent and well funded non-profits.
CZI is a charity that was founded in 2015 by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan after the birth of their first child. The Initiative is on track to become one of the largest nonprofits in the world, with Zuckerberg and Chan pledging to donate 99% of their Facebook stock over their lifetimes – which at the time was valued at around $45 billion, and now far exceeds that.
The organization is broken up into several focus areas – science, education and community – and they partner with other entities to invest in issues surrounding criminal justice and immigration.
Their science division states a goal of investing in and funding national and global efforts in order to cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century. While this sounds like an exceedingly ambitious goal, the idea is really to better equip the global medical community with the tools and technology they need so that future generations spend less time being sick. They’ve done a lot of work to promote vaccine access, especially over the past year and a half throughout the pandemic.
The Education team is aimed at ensuring that every child has the access and tools to get the education they deserve. About 3/4 of the team is focused on personalized learning and educational technology platforms, and the rest work on grant programs to promote things like mental and emotional health, teacher development, etc.
Their Community Initiative has a goal of promoting social equity in the Bay Area, tackling issues like education equality and housing affordability. They started working mostly in San Mateo County, but the pandemic accelerated their expansion into other parts of the Bay Area that were in need of aid. They have a Community Fund which allows any San Mateo County nonprofit to apply for a grant, a department aimed at helping their grantees grow and develop their organizations, and a department aimed at tackling urgent and emerging needs in the community (i.e. the COVID pandemic). It was actually CZI that SAMCEDA partnered with at the beginning of the pandemic to launch their restaurant relief program, which CZI kicked off with a $1 million donation. They also purchased 1,500 hotspots to aid remote learning for San Mateo County children without WiFi access when schools were shut down.
Needless to say, CZI does A LOT of work both globally and regionally here in the Bay Area. So much so that trying to summarize it all here on our little blog page wouldn’t do them any justice. However, if you’re curious to learn more about CZI and all the great work they do, there is a lot of great information of their website: www.chanzuckerberg.com
Thank you so much for your time, Andrea!