2019 Annual Letter

The Promise of Family

Mark and PriscillaHello friends,

Our first child, Max, was born four years ago this past week. While we were at the hospital, the two of us were putting the finishing touches on a letter to our new baby.

PRISCILLA: We wanted Max — along with children everywhere — to grow up in a better world. So, we wrote to her about our vision for the future and how we wanted to do our part.

MARK: We planned to tell Max, and the world, that we’d give away 99% of our wealth to realize that vision. But when Priscilla went into labor, we still weren’t completely finished writing.

PRISCILLA: There I was in active labor, and Mark has a copy of the letter that he’s trying to edit with me. I was like, I’m a little busy over here!

MARK: But we got it finished and posted it on Facebook. And so the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was born, right along with Max.

From the very beginning, CZI was rooted in family. It started with us and Max, and it’s grown to include hundreds of employees and partners around the world — plus our second child, August! The CZI family has gotten big, and it’s getting bigger.

From the very beginning, CZI was rooted in family. It started with us and Max, and it’s grown to include hundreds of employees and partners around the world…

The reason why is pretty simple. We believe in bringing people with different points of view together — policymakers, researchers, technologists, practitioners, and community leaders — not necessarily during the throes of childbirth, but around kitchen tables and in office hallways. Our hope is that we can fill a niche for our partners — people who otherwise might not have engineering or funding or advocacy expertise at their fingertips. By accelerating their progress, we can help build a better future for everyone.

A lot of our partnerships are unexpected and even unlikely, and we don’t always agree on everything (what family does?). But here’s the bottom line: the more people on the frontlines working together, the more ideas they have, the better the solutions will be, and the faster we’ll realize them, together.

As we reflect on this year and prepare for the next, we wanted to introduce you to a few members of our CZI family — and celebrate the partnerships that are powering progress in science, education, justice and opportunity, and in lifting up local communities.

  • Like Brian Wallach, who is both battling ALS and leading a movement to help find cures, and Tania Simoncelli, our Director of Science Policy at CZI. Through CZI’s Rare As One Project, they are building the tools that rare disease groups need to unite their communities and take on their diseases. Read more.
  • Or Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, and Caitlyn Fox, CZI’s Director of Housing Affordability. Together, they helped build a new initiative that will invest more than $500 million to preserve, protect, and produce affordable housing across the Bay Area. Read more.
  • Or Andrew Goldin, who is the Executive Director of T.L.P. Education, and Tom Curran, a Data Scientist at CZI. They both began their careers as middle-school science teachers, and are teaming up to help others tailor their curriculum to meet each child’s unique needs. Read more.
  • Or Divier Wallace, a Mental Health Services Coordinator at the Children’s Health Council, and Dominique Turrentine, a Manager on CZI’s Community team. Dominique supports Divier as he works to expand mental health and wellness services to communities throughout San Mateo County. Read more.

It makes sense that the CZI family started with the two of us working together on a letter to our daughter. Because, really, our own partnership — as a teacher-turned-pediatrician and a technologist — reflects some of the unlikely pairings that animate CZI’s work.

Bringing together people with divergent worldviews and experiences isn’t just a good way to help solve our world’s biggest challenges — it might be the only way.

Our lives started out really different. One of us was the child of refugees finding her way in an uneven world and realizing that she needed to do her part to serve others. The other was a boy who loved building things that connected people — starting with a chat client for his own family and his dad’s dental office. But those early experiences defined our partnership and eventually led us to create CZI. And while we can’t always agree on the “right” way to cook ribs, the differences between us are ultimately what make this life and this work so interesting.

At CZI, we believe that bringing together people with divergent worldviews and experiences isn’t just a good way to help solve our world’s biggest challenges — it might be the only way.

That’s why we’re inspired by our teammates and partners from both sides of the aisle and all walks of life who are part of the CZI family. Together, they are helping build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for all of our kids.

 Priscilla Chan & Mark Zuckerberg signature

Priscilla Chan & Mark Zuckerberg

Co-founders and Co-CEOs

P.S. You can read more about our 2019 milestones and the remarkable partnerships that are powering progress across the CZI family below.

Portraits of Tom Curran, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Andrew Golden, The Learning Platform

Andrew Goldin was appointed the new Executive Director of T.L.P. Education in the spring of 2019. Learn more about how he is partnering with another former teacher (Tom Curran — a Data Scientist at CZI) to support current teachers in Summit Learning classrooms across the country.

Tom Curran
Data Scientist, Education
Andrew Goldin
Executive Director, T.L.P. Education
Learn More
Portraits of Katrina Stevens, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Debbra Lindo, EF+ Math Program

More than 400 education leaders and 1,000 teachers shared ideas to improve math outcomes. The result is the EF+Math Program — an initiative to help students hone their math and executive function skills through new equity-focused, research-informed approaches. Learn more in a chat with Katrina Stevens (CZI Education) and Debbra Lindo (EF+Math).

Katrina Stevens
Director, Learning Science
Debbra Lindo
Educator Leadership Council Chair, EF+Math Program
Learn More
Portraits of Vivian Wu, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Garrett Lord, Handshake

This year, Handshake opened its platform to all undergraduate students attending any four-year university. Together, Vivian Wu (CZI Ventures) and Garrett Lord (CEO of Handshake) are expanding opportunity for every college student in America.

Vivian Wu
Managing Partner, Ventures
Garrett Lord
CEO, Handshake
Learn More
Priscilla Chan poses with Elmo, a teacher and school children
Priscilla Chan speaking at a lectern at SXSW
Whole Child graphic
Priscilla Chan speaking at ASU-GSV
A Chan Zuckerberg Initiative employee works with a young student inside the classroom
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announces Equity Grants
Image of computer and decor.
Our venture partner Trilogy Education, which partners with leading universities to launch skills-based boot camps and training programs, became part of the EdTech company, 2U. This exciting development unites online degrees, short courses, and boot camps to give nontraditional learners greater access to critical educational opportunities throughout their careers.
A teacher and a student sit side-by-side smiling and talking

See Justice & Opportunity milestones