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 Caitlyn Fox, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Fred Blackwell, San Francisco Foundation

With an initial commitment of more than $500 million, The Partnership for the Bay’s Future launched in January 2019 to preserve, protect and produce regional affordable housing. Learn more about how Caitlyn Fox (CZI Housing Affordability) and Fred Blackwell (San Francisco Foundation) are working with local partners to help make the Bay Area a place everyone can call home.

Caitlyn Fox
Director, Housing Affordability
Fred Blackwell
CEO, San Francisco Foundation
Learn More
Portraits of Zoë Towns and Kris Steele

Zoë Towns (FWD.us) and Kris Steele (Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform) are making sure criminal justice reform is top of mind in Oklahoma. Their efforts helped pass Oklahoma’s HB 1269 — which in November resulted in the largest single-day commutation effort in our nation’s history.

Zoë Towns
Senior Criminal Justice Reform Director
Kris Steele
Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform
Learn More
Portraits of Aly Tamboura, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Dorsey Nunn, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Aly Tamboura (CZI Criminal Justice Reform) and Dorsey Nunn (Legal Services for Prisoners with Children) are changing America’s criminal justice system from the inside out — by strengthening the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted Peoples and Families Movement.

Aly Tamboura
Manager, Criminal Justice Reform
Dorsey Nunn
Executive Director, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Learn More
Priscilla Chan sits on stage with Bay Area leaders at the Commonwealth Club
Incarcerated women learn how to code via The Last Mile program
Seven people sit in a circle at a convening
A drawing of houses, apartment buildings and trees
In a new $1 million partnership with the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, CZI helped launch the Housing Lab, an accelerator program that nurtures innovative organizations addressing the nation's housing challenges.
Photos of Nila Bala, Tarra Simmons and Rep. Jordan A. Harris
Image that says 70% of Americans across party lines support clean slate policies.

See Science milestones