New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker Join With Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Advance a National Model for Improving Public Schools

Zuckerberg to Establish $100 Million Foundation — Startup: Education — to Improve Student Success and Champion Great Teachers, Starting with Newark, New Jersey

Sep 24, 2010, 11:00 ET from Facebook

NEWARK, N.J., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- On today's Oprah Winfrey Show, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker launched the Partnership for Education in Newark, an unprecedented commitment to improve public education, with the support of Facebook® Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Governor Christie and Mayor Booker have committed to a bipartisan initiative to ensure every school-aged child in Newark has access to a high-quality education that prepares them for a successful future and a better quality of life. To begin this new Partnership, the Governor has authorized Mayor Booker to work with the local community to develop and implement a comprehensive education plan for the future of the Newark Public School District, based on clear standards and metrics that reward excellence in teaching, school leadership and student achievement. The plan will be carried out under the Mayor's leadership over the next few years.

To support these efforts, Zuckerberg announced the creation of a new foundation – Startup: Education -- with an initial gift of $100 million to improve educational opportunities for young people in America. The foundation's first project will be to measurably improve academic achievement for Newark students and create a national model for rewarding excellence in education. Mayor Booker has also announced the creation of the Newark Education and Youth Development Fund, a separate non-profit organization whose goal is to secure an additional $100 million to match the challenge grant available through Zuckerberg's foundation, as well as an additional $50 million to serve disaffected youth.

"Mayor Booker and I are thrilled to accept Mark Zuckerberg's challenge – to work with the Newark community to dramatically elevate the potential of public education in the City of Newark, throughout New Jersey and across the nation," said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  "Collectively, we believe the best way to secure and improve our nation's future is to create the highest quality public education system in the world.  There is no better place to begin this journey than in Newark, a city of both great progress and potential."

"We're grateful that this young, innovative entrepreneur is so dedicated to helping create the next generation of successful entrepreneurs and leaders.  Improving the quality of public education and increasing student achievement in Newark is a top priority of my Administration, and I am so grateful that Mark Zuckerberg shares our commitment and belief in the genius and limitless potential of Newark's students," said Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.  "We know that investing in educational excellence today will create the foundation for Newark's prosperity and competitiveness in the decades ahead. With this incredible investment and the steadfast commitment of our school leaders and teachers to improve youth outcomes, it is my belief that the pathway to nationwide public education excellence starts in Newark."

The National Opportunity for Change

The Newark Public School District, with a student population of more than 40,000, is the largest school system in New Jersey. In 2008-2009, only 40 percent of students could read and write at grade level by the end of third grade, only 54 percent of high school students graduated and just 38 percent enrolled in college.*

The size of the school district, the determination of the community and the scope of the grant create an unprecedented opportunity to drastically improve the educational environment for all the city's students.

Shared Commitments

Governor Christie, Mayor Booker and Mark Zuckerberg will work collaboratively to support the transformation of Newark's education system and ultimately make the city a national model for educational excellence.

Governor Christie has committed to work with Mayor Booker to ensure that every child in Newark receives a quality education.  Through this Partnership, Mayor Booker will provide local strategic and operational leadership to help Newark improve its public schools, with strong accountability and clear standards and metrics designed to improve teacher excellence and student achievement.

Mayor Booker has committed to make education a top priority for his current term in office, engage with the Newark community to develop new educational principles and performance metrics, and implement a comprehensive program to reward excellence. As key milestones in the project are reached, the Startup: Education foundation intends to provide $100 million over five years to ensure every school-aged child in Newark has access to a high-quality education.  

"Mayor Booker and Governor Christie refuse to accept the status quo in public education," said Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook.  "They insist on demanding more for young people now so that they will be fully prepared for success in college, careers and in life. Each of these leaders is prepared to make bold commitments that will make Newark a symbol of education reform. Their personal commitments – and their willingness to cut through the politics and red tape to collaborate – persuaded me to support them and make a commitment of my own."  Zuckerberg's blog post announcing Startup: Education can be found at

Praise from third parties

Today's announcement has already generated praise from educational experts, philanthropists and others around the country:

Jon Schnur, CEO, New Leaders for New Schools

"There is nothing more important in American education in the next five years than showing how entire cities and states can have the dramatic successes that to date we have only seen at the school level. Under Mayor Cory Booker's leadership - with support from Governor Christie and Mark Zuckerberg - the children of Newark can succeed and make their city one of those "proof points" for our nation."

Norman Atkins, CEO, Teacher U; Founder/Board Chair, Uncommon Schools; Co-Founder, North Star Academy Charter School in Newark

"Both Governor Chris Christie and Mayor Cory Booker are maverick public servants long been committed to closing the achievement gap.  Now, teaming up with one of our nation's leading entrepreneurs, they are making the Newark Public Schools the central address in American education reform, setting out to ensure that all Newark students are prepared for success in college and life."  

Kathleen Nugent, New Jersey State Director, Democrats for Education Reform

"This is our chance to launch a real debate in Newark focused on what's best for kids and what we must do to provide excellent education to every student.  The gift offers the opportunity to invest in what works."

Richard Barth, CEO and President, KIPP Foundation

"It has taken a decade for KIPP to grow from two to 99 schools, with four of our schools in Newark. We are looking to double the number of children we serve in the next five years, and today's bold announcement sets up Newark as one of the cities in which we can dramatically increase the number of children we serve.  This is a game changer."

John Danner, Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketship Education

"I applaud Mark Zuckerberg for building the momentum around eliminating the achievement gap across America in our lifetimes. Mayor Booker is an ideal recipient of this matching grant; he will work tirelessly to give the children of Newark a better chance. As Rocketship expands nationally, this moves Newark up our list of potential cities significantly."

Evan Rudall, CEO, Uncommon Schools

"Uncommon Schools is thrilled that Governor Christie, Mayor Booker, Mark Zuckerberg, and others are joining forces to improve Newark's public schools.  Until the achievement gap is closed and every child in Newark is prepared to graduate from college, it is essential for elected officials, entrepreneurs, and educators to work together to do what is in the best interest of children.  Uncommon Schools and North Star Academy welcome this opportunity to help ensure that all Newark children have the opportunity to attend an outstanding school."

Robert Clark, Founding Director, YouthBuild Newark

"This is a real opportunity for Newark to become a model in education reform. Improving outcomes for our youth must focus on the results that each leader, teacher and school achieves for its students.  With the collective energy of the City's education, nonprofit and philanthropic community, working in partnership with kids and families, I know that Newark is destined for greatness."

Bill Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"Thank you, Mark, for this incredible gift to improve education. Your involvement in the years ahead -- your thinking, your energy -- will be even more important than your resources. Improving education in this country is the key to its future, making it a just place, achieving the full potential of all students. There's a lot to learn. Technology has a role to play, more resources, backing leaders like you have here. I'm excited to be on this journey together and thank you so much."

Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone

"This is the most exciting education reform initiative in the country. It is a historic opportunity for Newark to demonstrate how educational innovation and increased accountability can save the lives of thousands of poor children."

John Legend, Recording Artist and education advocate

"Newark is doing what every school district should do – focusing on proven education reform strategies like putting students first and investing heavily in teacher and principal quality. The Partnership for Education in Newark offers an unprecedented opportunity to support Newark's students, schools and teachers - and serves as a model for funding public education excellence. I have heard Mayor Booker say that 'Newark will shock the world.'  My hope is that this initiative will not only shock people everywhere into more deeply supporting schools, but that Newark's efforts will rock the world through generations of students who benefit from an outstanding public education."

Mashea Ashton, Newark Charter School Fund

"This historic donation is a real opportunity for Newark to become a national model for leveraging private dollars to improve an urban school system.  While there are no silver bullets to reform education, we know what works: it takes great teachers, inspirational leaders, a dedicated community and the political will to keep students and families first. With this financial support, Newark has the resources to take bold action. We need to be innovative in our efforts to improve educational outcomes for every child in Newark. We must incorporate best practices of high-quality charter schools and great traditional schools, bringing it to scale in a way that benefits all schools in the city."

Ted Mitchell, CEO, NewSchools Venture Fund; President, California State Board of Education

"Our failure, as a country, to offer a world-class education to every child shames us all. This partnership will create a team that knows that with will, hard work, and innovative ideas, we can do better."

Additional Information

To contribute to the Partnership for Education in Newark, visit or

For more information on the Partnership or Startup: Education, like the Facebook Page at; join the cause at or visit

Follow updates from Mayor Booker on Facebook at, on Twitter at, or YouTube at

Follow updates from Governor Christie on Facebook at, on Twitter at, YouTube at or his website at

Follow Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook at

* Newark Public Schools 2009–13 Strategic Plan

Media Contacts: 


Esmeralda Cameron

-New Jersey
Office of the Governor Press Office



Amy Swanson
OutCast Communications


About the City of Newark, New Jersey

Newark, commonly referred to as Brick City, is the third oldest city in the United States and the largest in New Jersey, with a population of more than 280,000 people. Newark sits on one of the nation's largest transportation super-structures including an international airport, major rail connections, major highway intersections and the busiest seaport on the east coast.  With a new Administration as of July 2006, Newark continues to see signs of a strong revival. In population, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the northeast. Its six major colleges and universities are further expanding their presence. The production of affordable housing has doubled, businesses are returning and crime is going down. There is still much work to be done but Newark is on its way to achieving its mission: to set a national standard for urban transformation.

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