The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is donating money to the towns that Facebook helped gentrify

East Palo Alto in 2015.
East Palo Alto in 2015.
Image: Reuters/Stephen Lam
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Mark Zuckerberg’s new credo is all about building communities online—and apparently in real life as well. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative created by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced Wednesday (Oct. 25)  a new “community fund” to help solve various social problems, such as homelessness, in towns near Facebook’s headquarters.

The fund will provide grants of $25,000 to $100,000 for Bay Area communities such as Belle Haven, East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and Redwood City in California “to respond to community needs around education, housing, homelessness, immigration, transportation, and workforce development.”

“The Bay Area is our home,” Chan wrote in a post on Facebook. “We love our community and are so proud to be raising our two daughters here…But listening to the stories from our local leaders and neighbors, there is still a lot of work to do.” The official announcement adds that the organization’s philanthropic giving is guided by those directly impacted “by challenges.” It also talks of  ”building communities,” literally echoing Zuckerberg’s February mission statement for Facebook as a company. 

Of course, Facebook, headquartered in Menlo Park, helped create some of these challenges itself. Gentrification by tech companies of areas surrounding their California campuses have increased housing costs, pushing out local residents, while bringing few benefits to local businesses. Local activists worry increased police presence will lead to racial profiling. 

Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg himself had been battling local authorities in Palo Alto over his wish to combine four residences for his personal family compound. Local authorities forced him to revise his plans to rebuild the existing single-family houses as smaller ones, with one designated as “a great place for a party,” Mercury News reported.