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School Choice & Charters

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to Open Private School for Low-Income Kids

By Arianna Prothero — October 23, 2015 1 min read
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, plan to start a private school in East Palo Alto, Calif., for low-income students.

But the K-8 school will focus on more than academics—it will also help provide medical, dental, and mental health services for both students and their families through partnerships with nearby health centers, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Chan, who is also a former elementary teacher, seems to be the one driving the project. More from the San Jose Mercury News:

In an interview with this newspaper, Chan emotionally described her quest to help children overcome poverty. An increasing number of studies, she pointed out, show that chronic stress— brought on by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and household dysfunction during childhood—radically alters brain development. Children subjected to such stress are 32 times more likely to suffer from a learning disability, and a heightened risk of heart disease, obesity, drug abuse and mental illness, she said. Chan recalled former students and patients whose conditions she could not cure, because multifaceted problems extended beyond her realm. As a Harvard undergraduate, she tutored children in a Boston housing project. 'After the first year,' she said, 'it became evident I could do all I wanted, but there were much bigger problems that were preventing these kids from succeeding in school.' "

East Palo Alto is a small city that is mostly Latino and much less affluent than neighboring communities in the surrounding Silicon Valley.

Zuckerberg and Chan have made a handful of other investments in education, including funding college scholarships for undocumented students and, perhaps mostly notoriously, $100 million to retool struggling Newark, N.J. public schools.

The East Palo Alto private school is scheduled to open in August, and, once finished, will accommodate around 700 students.


Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, arrive for a State Dinner in the East Room of the White House on Sept. 25. —Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.