Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in Prague (2013). (link) by Lukasz Porwol is licensed CC BY 2.0 (link)


Redwood City, CA




Limited Liability Company (LLC)


Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is the grantmaking brand of Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. Though the Initiative has broadly nonpartisan goals, it donates to many left-of-center foundations and a substantial fund to Zuckerberg’s pro-Democrat PAC,

The Initiative is organized as an LLC, which means the corporation is not exempt from income tax but allows more flexible operations and fewer legal standards for public disclosures. The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation (CZF) and Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy (CZA) are a tax-exempt charitable foundation and tax-exempt lobbying group respectively that operate under the Initiative’s umbrella. The Initiative is on track to become one of the largest nonprofits in the world, with Zuckerberg and Chan pledging to donate 99% of their Facebook stock over their lifetimes.

Though not legally required to do so, the Initiative discloses all disbursed funds. As of September 2020, the Initiative, CZF, and CZA have given 919 grants and have started 15 “initiatives,” or investments in companies.

Founding and Structure

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was announced on Facebook on December 1, 2015, at the birth of Zuckerberg and Chan’s first child. [1] Zuckerberg announced that the Initiative would be financed by his and Chan’s fortune. Over the course of their lifetimes, Zuckerberg and Chan will donate 99% of their Facebook stock, amounting to $45 billion in 2015,[2] and currently close to $100 billion. [3] Currently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of almost $48 billion, making it the second-largest nonprofit in the world. [4] As of 2018, the CZF and CZA have a cumulative endowment of almost $5 billion,[5][6] but the Initiative LLC’s finances are not public.

As an LLC, the Initiative’s tax implications differ from standard nonprofits. Stock given to the Initiative will not result in tax credits and will remain under Zuckerberg and Chan’s control via their ownership of the Initiative. However, when they liquidate or contribute these shares for direct grants, they will receive tax credits. Additionally, by transferring their wealth in company shares to the Initiative, Zuckerberg and Chan can avoid paying estate taxes on their wealth in the future upon their deaths. On the other hand, the LLC will be liable for income or capital gains taxes on any successful investments into for-profit companies. [7]

Grant and Investments

As of September 2020, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC has given 823 grants and has invested in 15 companies. [8][9]


Zuckerberg has long been a proponent of education policy changes. In 2010, before the establishment of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Zuckerberg donated $100 million to public schools in Newark, New Jersey. [10]

The Initiative has given 230 education grants[11] and has invested heavily in education companies. In 2016, the Initiative made its first major investment of $24 million in Andela, a startup focused on training programmers in Africa. [12] The same year, the Initiative invested in Byju, an educational app in India. [13] In 2018, the Initiative invested $30 million in Reach Every Reader, a five-year project designed by Harvard and MIT professors to boost reading abilities in children. [14]


The Initiative has given 178 science grants, nearly all of which has gone to medical research, hospitals, and medical universities. [15]

Social Justice and Immigration

The Initiative has given 212 justice and opportunity grants, many of which have gone to left-of-center organizations. Expansionist immigration advocacy groups have received much funding, including over $1 million to the National Immigration Forum, $550,000 to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, $200,000 to the American Immigration Council, $150,000 to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and $120,000 to the Justice Action Center. [16]

Left-wing social policy nonprofits have also received millions, including $1.6 million to the Civil Rights Corps, $1.1 million to Forward Justice, $500,000 to Common Justice, and $255,000 to the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. [17]

Some grants have gone to larger left-of-center funds, including $3.25 million to the Tides Center, $665,000 to the Center for American Progress, $250,000 to the Niskanen Center, and $200,000 for NEO Philanthropy. [18]

Since 2015, the Initiative has given almost $24 million to the Education Fund, the charitable advocacy component of, a left-of-center group founded by Zuckerberg in 2014 that supports liberalized immigration, criminal justice reform, and higher education spending. [19]

However, the Initiative has also contributed to a few right-of-center and libertarian organizations, including $958,000 to the American Conservative Union Foundation, $185,000 to Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, and $175,000 to the Cato Institute. [20]

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was one of the original donors to fund the creation of the California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) at the end of 2020. The CBFF is a left-of-center grantmaking organization that funds California-based groups that seek to eliminate what it perceives as systemic racism. It used funding from the original donors to provide grants that went towards advocacy for targeted redistricting, so-called racial equity, and the firing of who it determines are racist police officers. [21]

In January 2021, CZI launched a $450 million initiative to fund advocacy efforts for criminal justice and immigration reform. As part of the imitative, CZI announced it was creating a new and independent criminal justice reform advocacy group called Justice Accelerator Fund, to which would be providing an initial investment of $350 million over five years. The group will be led by Ana Zamora, CZI’s director of criminal justice reform and a former criminal justice advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). [22] The initiative’s remaining $100 million was directed to, the immigration reform advocacy group that Mark and Priscilla started in 2013.

2020 Voting Outreach

In September 2020, the Initiative announced it was donating $300 million to voter outreach efforts for the 2020 election. $250 million will go to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a left-of-center group which focuses on registering voters among demographic groups which tend to support Democrats. $50 million will go to the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonpartisan group primarily focused on electoral security. [23]


Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder, CEO, and largest shareholder of Facebook. As of September 2020, he was the 3rd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $98 billion. [24] Priscilla Chan is a licensed pediatrician and former teacher. The two met while attending Harvard University and married in 2012. [25]

Though Zuckerberg has never openly identified with a political party, he primarily supports Democratic candidates, having given money to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Senator Charles Schumer, Congressional candidate Sean Eldridge (D-NY), the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee, and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ),[26] for whom Zuckerberg also hosted a fundraising dinner in 2013. [27] Priscilla Chan has also donated to Booker, Schumer, and Eldridge. [28]

Starting in 2017, there were rumors of Zuckerberg running for president as a Democratic candidate,[29] but he has since denied any intention and did not run in the 2020 elections. [30] However, Zuckerberg did privately advise former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) during his 2020 Democratic presidential candidacy. [31]

Zuckerberg has also donated to Republican politicians, including Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), former Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), and former Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). [32] Zuckerberg also hosted a fundraiser dinner for then-Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) in 2013. [33]

David Plouffe

In 2017, David Plouffe was hired as the president of policy and advocacy of the Initiative. Plouffe worked on numerous Democratic campaigns in his early career before joining political consulting firm AKPD Messenger and Media in 2001. In 2007, the firm ran Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and is largely credited for his victory. Afterward, Plouffe served as a senior advisor in President Obama’s administration. [34]

Joel Benenson

Also in 2017, the Initiative hired Benenson Strategy Group to perform research. The Group was founded and is run by Joel Benenson, a former communications director for the unsuccessful 1994 re-election campaign of New York Governor Mario Cuomo (D)[35] and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton (D-NY)’s 2016 presidential run. [36]

Amy Dudley

In 2017, the Initiative hired Amy Dudley as chief spokesman and eventually vice president of executive communications. Dudley is a longtime Democratic operative, who has worked as the communications director for Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), national spokesperson and senior adviser to Senator Kaine when he was Hillary Clinton’s presidential running mate, a press secretary to Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE), and as a press secretary to Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE). [37]

Ken Mehlman

In 2017, the Initiative appointed Ken Mehlman as a board member of its policy advisory board. Mehlman is a longtime Republic operative who was director of the Office of Political Affairs under President George W. Bush, a manager of Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, and chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mehlman came out as gay in a 2010 interview and was an early proponent of state-recognition of same-sex marriages in the Republican Party. [38]


  1. Zuckerberg, Mark. “A letter to our daughter.” Facebook. December 1, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  2. Zuckerberg, Mark. “A letter to our daughter.” Facebook. December 1, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  3. “#3 Mark Zuckerberg.” Forbes. September 16, 2020. ^
  4. “World’s 100 largest philanthropic foundations list.” Arco Lab. April 2020. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  5. “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Foundation.” Propublica. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  6. “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Advocacy.” Propublica. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  7. Cassidy, John. “Mark Zuckerberg and the Rise of Philanthrocapitalism.” New Yorker. December 3, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  8. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  9. “Ventures.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  10. Matthews, Dylan; Pinkerton, Byrd. “Mark Zuckerberg wanted to help Newark schools. Newerkers say they weren’t heard.” Vox. July 3, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  11. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  12. Maisto, Michelle. “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative selects Andela for First Major Investment.” June 16, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  13. Heath, Alex. “Mark Zuckerberg leads $50 million investment in Indian education startup.” Business Insider. September 8, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  14. Bayer, Casey. “Reach Every Reader targets early literacy crisis.” Harvard Gazette. March 6, 2018. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  15. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  16. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  17. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  18. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  19. Wadha, Vivek. “The Way Forward for” Washington Post. May 15, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  20. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  21. California Black Freedom Fund, February 4, 2021. ^
  22. “CZI Announces $450 Million to Accelerate Criminal Justice & Immigration Reform .” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, March 30, 2021. ^
  23. Block, Fang. “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Commit $300 Million to Voting Efforts.” Barrons. September 2, 2020. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  24. “#3 Mark Zuckerberg.” Forbes. September 16, 2020. ^
  25. “Who is Priscilla Chan?” CNN Business. December 1, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  26. “Donor Lookup: Mark Zuckerberg.” Open Secrets. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  27. Young, Elise. “Zuckerberg Plans Fundraiser for Cory Booker’s Senate Run.” Bloomberg. June 8, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  28. “Donor Lookup: Priscilla Chan.” Open Secrets. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  29. Carter, Shawn M. “More signs point to Mark Zuckerberg possibly running for president in 2020.” CNBC. August 15, 2017. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  30. “Priscilla Chan says neither she nor her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, have political ambitions.” CBS. February 18, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  31. Pager, Tyler; Wagner, Kurt. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Privately Advised Pete Buttigieg on Campaign Hires.” Time. October 21, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  32. “Donor Lookup: Mark Zuckerberg.” Open Secrets. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  33. Dickey, Megan Rose. “Mark Zuckerberg’s Holding a Fundraiser for Chris Christie.” Business Insider. January 24, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  34. “David Plouffe.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  35. “Joel Benenson.” BSG 2020, 2020. ^
  36. Choudhury, Saheli Roy. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly hires Democratic pollster Joel Benenson.” CNBC. August 7, 2017. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  37. “Amy Dudley.” LinkedIn. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^
  38. Stolberg, Cheryl Gay. “Strategist Out of Closet and Into Fray, This Time for Gay Marriage.” New York Times. June 19, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2020. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Priscilla Chan
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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Redwood City, CA