The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, managing over $3 billion in assets, received its largest contribution ever with a gift of 18 million shares of Facebook stock — worth an estimated $1 billion — from the company's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. A 2012 gift of another 18 million shares of stock from Zuckerberg is the second-largest contribution received by SVCF, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in its Dec. 20 edition.
Already a major player in Bay Area philanthropy despite its relatively young age (the foundation was created in 2005), Silicon Valley Community Foundation is poised to become an even greater presence, thanks to the support of the Facebook CEO, who is not yet 30 years old and just beginning to make his mark as a philanthropist.
Despite its name, Silicon Valley Community Foundation does not limit its grantmaking activities to its northern California base, although there is a clear preference for the region. Some of its largest grants have been outside California, such as the nearly $106 million given to the University of Oregon Foundation. However, the foundation states that organizations outside of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties should demonstrate a record of service to the area.
SVCF's strategic priorities include education, economic security, and immigrant integration — all significant issues for Silicon Valley and the entire nation. Zuckerberg clearly shares the foundation's interest in education, as demonstrated by his $100 million gift in 2010 to the public school system in Newark, N.J. Organizations interested in improving educational opportunities in northern California may have greater opportunities with the additional assets that will be at SVCF's disposal.
Although some have questioned the motives behind Zuckerberg's giving, what seems clear is his commitment to making a difference in his home community. His gifts to SVCF demonstrate a willingness to use his vast fortune to achieve that effect.