Since Facebook's 2011 move to its sprawling campus in Menlo Park -- including a 430,000-square-foot complex completed in 2015 -- nearby residents have protested the rise of housing costs and the gentrification of their community. Now, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, primarily focused on scientific and educational causes, has launched the CZI Community Fund to address problems closer to home.
"We love our community and are so proud to be raising our two daughters here," Initiative co-founder Priscilla Chan wrote on her Facebook page in an announcement of the fund on Wednesday. "But listening to the stories from our local leaders and neighbors, there is still a lot of work to do."
The program will provide grants of between $25,000 and $100,000 to nonprofits and schools serving East Palo Alto, Redwood City, the Belle Haven neighborhood and North Fair Oaks, an unincorporated section of San Mateo County. Those areas neighboring Facebook are where gentrification has hit the hardest, the organization stated in a press release.
Grants can be applied to local community needs such as education, housing, homelessness, immigration, transportation and workforce development, which are issues "identified by local residents and leaders as top priorities."
Chan, a pediatrician, founded the Initiative in 2015 with her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to invest in a range of philanthropic efforts. The organization functions as a limited liability company, not a nonprofit, meaning that it does not have to disclose individual grants or total assets. It also can buy advertisements and donate to private corporations, startups or political campaigns, a status which has spawned criticism.
Previous investments related to the housing crisis include a $500,000 gift to the Terner Center at UC Berkeley and $3.1 million to Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, which aids families in the midst of displacement or eviction.
"We're hopeful this fund, in addition to our ongoing work locally around education, housing, and other key issues, will help ensure a brighter future for residents in these communities," states the Initiative's Facebook announcement of the grant.
Applications for the Community Fund will be accepted through Dec. 1 and evaluated on various criteria including the grant's potential impact and the organization's fiscal responsibility, according to the Initiative's website. The grant period will run from Jan. 15 through Dec. 30, 2018.