Tim Bradshaw Zuckerberg donates $500m to Silicon Valley charity

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have made their biggest charitable donation yet, giving Facebook stock worth $500m to a Silicon Valley foundation.

“Today, in order to lay the foundation for new projects, we’ve made a contribution of 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation,” the Facebook founder wrote on his profile page on Tuesday. “Together, we will look for areas in education and health to focus on next.”

The Facebook chief’s contribution is equivalent to the charity’s total donations for last year.

In 2010, Mr Zuckerberg donated $100m to Startup: Education in Newark, New Jersey, close to his hometown of Dobbs Ferry, New York. He said that the campaign had contributed to “the most progressive teachers contract in our country, opening four new district high schools, 11 new charter schools and more”.

After the donation, Mr Zuckerberg still holds some 395m vested Facebook shares, worth almost $11bn at Tuesday’s closing share price of $27.71, plus additional unvested equity grants and stock options.

Mr Zuckerberg had also donated to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation before backing the Newark initiative. While more low-key than some tech causes, the organisation helps to identify “emerging challenges” in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, according to its website. It stresses the “professional investment management” of its funds, which totalled $2bn as at April 2012.

“Mark’s generous gift will change lives and inspire others in Silicon Valley and around the globe to give back and make the world a better place,” said Emmett D. Carson, chief executive of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Bill Gates remains Silicon Valley’s most generous philanthropist, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation holding $36.2bn in assets, including contributions from Warren Buffett.

In 2010, Mr Zuckerberg made the Giving Pledge, an idea pioneered by Mr Gates and Mr Buffett, promising to donate more than half of his earnings to charity.

Other recent Silicon Valley signatories to the Giving Pledge include Intel’s Gordon Moore (after whom Moore’s Law of chip pricing is named) and Netflix chief Reed Hastings, along with their wives.