Mark Zuckerberg And Priscilla Chan Just Committed $45 Million To 2 Big Causes

The couple's efforts are ramping up.

Mark Zuckerberg, the fifth richest man in the world, just pledged $45 million dollars to help fight mass incarceration and fix the affordable housing crisis. 



In an exclusive report, VICE News says that the money is part of the "first series of investments by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI)," a joint venture by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. Apparently, much of the $45 million has already been spent in the first 10 months of 2017.

News of the investment comes as rumors have been swirling that Zuckerberg was considering a run for president. Many of the rumors were founded in Zuckerberg's listening tour across the United States.

"I think that the sort of political scuttlebutt has been kind of silly both in terms of what we're doing and Mark's travel,"  former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, who leads CZI's political work, said in an interview with VICE News. "You can't manage a fictitious campaign."

Zuckerberg and Chan have structured CZI as an LLC, rather than a charitable foundation, which gives them less legal hurdles and fewer restrictions to lobby the government. So far, they've used some of that money to lobby local officials across the United States to pass fairer sentencing laws or restrict the practice of sentencing people under the age of 18 years old as adults. CZI officials say Zuckerberg and Chan were inspired in part by Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crowwhich documents how systemic racism has become entrenched in the U.S. justice system.  

According to Vice, the couple was also inspired by a trip to San Quentin prison and an introduction to Anthony Ray Hinton, an African-American man who was on death row for 30 years before he was exonerated for his alleged crimes.

Some estimates say the $45 million dollars is a small chunk of the more than $60 billion CZI has on hand, which would make its coffers even larger than charity goliaths like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The couple's interest in affordable housing is a less surprising endeavor. Zuckerberg and Chan live in San Francisco, where Facebook's main campus is located, a city that many consider to be the epicenter of a nationwide affordable housing crisis. The problem looms so large that Facebook now has plans to build an on-campus village equipped with employee housing. Their hope is by providing housing they will ease the burden on staff and members of the custodial team who have to commute into one of America's most expensive zip codes for work every day.

In an effort to help find solutions, CZI has consulted both academics and legislators on changes they could push for to create more available affording housing. One example of their push is a $3.6 million grant to UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation to help research how to create more affordable housing.

"I don't think you can solve this problem without government action, and I don't think CZI thinks so either," professor Carol Galante, the Terner Center's faculty director, told VICE News.

Whether Zuckerberg has presidential aspirations or not, it's clear he is not going to sit on the sidelines with his money, power and influence. 

Cover photo: Shutterstock / catwalker

GET SOME POSITIVITY IN YOUR INBOX

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.