In an open letter to their newborn daughter Max, Facebook co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, pledged to donate 99 percent of their shares in the social media company to a new charitable organization. The just-launched Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will focus initially on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,” the wrote.
The couple, who wrote that they felt a “moral responsibility to all children in the next generation,” added that the current value of the shares they’re earmarking for the organization is worth about $45 billion. “We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues,” they wrote. “But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.”
The couple wrote that they felt the foundation’s mission was “advancing human potential and promoting equality.”
Facebook issued a securities filing concurrent with the open letter, explaining that the executive expected “to sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years,” according to The New York Times. Zuckerberg plans on retaining a majority of voting shares in the company.
The couple has made substantial donations in recent years to several organizations related to education. In 2010, Zuckerberg and Chan gave $100 million to the city of Newark, New Jersey to improve its schools, The Guardian reports. This year, they gave millions to organizations that develop personalized learning technologies and online platforms that adjust to individual children’s needs, as well as one that makes it easier for K-12 schools to raise money for high-speed internet in classrooms, according to the Times. Zuckerberg also recently signed onto Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which aims to cut global warming emissions.