Newark teachers will get grants to develop innovative classroom programs from the $100 million donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to the city's school district.
Officials with Foundation for Newark's Future, the philanthropy group that manages the cash, announced a two-year, $600,000 initiative Wednesday that will provide the city's teachers with up to $10,000 for creative programming.
"We know that there are committed, strong, passionate, dedicated professional teachers in the Newark Public School system and, part of what we want to do is support, nurture and lift up the power of those teachers with (this money)," said Gregory Taylor, chief executive officer of the foundation.
Taylor, flanked by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, state-appointed Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson and acting New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, addressed a room of reporters at the city's Harriet Tubman School.
He said teachers applying for the money will choose one of three specific areas in need of improvement at their school — teaching and learning, teacher growth and development or connecting schools and communities.
The initiative comes one year after Zuckerberg, Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced the $100 million gift on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
During the announcement, in a classroom on the school's third floor, Leticia Dominguez taught Spanish to 14 kindergarteners. The 12-year veteran at Harriet Tubman said she'd like to use the money to help teach students about world cultures. "Right now, I follow the standard program and teach kids how to read, write and speak," she said. "There's just not enough time for teaching the culture."
Dominguez said she offers after-school programs for students who want to learn more about Hispanic heritage.
Booker, who sits on the foundation's board, said the money will help strengthen the district's "great" education, "This fund now is showing the commitment in the superintendent's vision by providing an education fund that will help stimulate and pull from teachers the best ideas to stimulate our kids."
Taylor said both charter and district teachers can apply for the cash. When asked why the foundation opted to allow charter schools to participate, Taylor said teachers from both schools can learn from each other. "It's about teachers across the district," he said. "There are incredibly committed teachers in both district and charter."
Anderson said the money will assist in "knowledge capture" between both charter and district teachers, "We will spread that knowledge across all our teachers and all our schools."
The foundation's chief said teachers can apply for the grants online, starting in November.
Since the Facebook cash announcement last September, Booker has helped raise money for Foundation for Newark's Future to match the $100 million. So far, the mayor has netted more than $47 million.