April 1, 2021

To Support Underserved Students, CZI Looks to Strengthen Community and Identity

Author: Connie Matthiessen

Education is tightly intertwined with the two defining issues of this moment—COVID-19 and nationwide demand for racial equity. Structural racism and inequality fuel many of the biggest problems and challenges in our public education system. The pandemic threw the day-to-day routine of teaching into chaos for a full year. And the fallout, which will last for many years, only exacerbates inequality.

That means the future of K-12 philanthropy will largely succeed or fail based on how it handles these underlying issues. In other words, education funding is more complicated than ever.

As the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative takes on that challenge, it’s not helped by the fact that the grantmaker has been hounded by controversy, stemming from complaints about the organization itself, but also its extremely high-profile co-founders. As IP’s Mike Scutari recently observed in a close-up look at CZI’s struggles, “regardless of its track record or its team, there are some unique, inescapable realities surrounding Facebook’s past and present activity that are going to make life more challenging for Zuckerberg’s philanthropic arm.”