By David McCabe - 12/01/15 04:43 PM EST
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife will donate 99 percent of their shares in Facebook, roughly $45 billion, to a new initiative to “advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation,” they said Tuesday.
The Facebook CEO and his wife Priscilla Chan announced the creation of a new venture, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, to advance their philanthropic work. Initially, the group will focus on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.”
Though they are nonpartisan, the letter at times alluded to Zuckerberg’s interest in issues including prison and criminal justice reform, immigration reform and civil rights.
“If you fear you'll go to prison rather than college because of the color of your skin, or that your family will be deported because of your legal status, or that you may be a victim of violence because of your religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, then it's difficult to reach your full potential,” they wrote, referencing barriers to education.
It’s not the couple’s first foray into giving. They have donated to a local San Francisco hospital and Zuckerberg memorably appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show alongside Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) to announce a $100 million donation to Newark’s public schools.
Although the family is touting its philanthropy, Zuckerberg offered assurances that his time leading the nation’s largest social network was far from over.
“I will continue to serve as Facebook's CEO for many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work,” he wrote.
Facebook said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Zuckerberg is not planning to sell more than $1 billion worth of his shares per year for the next three years.
This story was updated at 5:31 p.m.