Bringing world-class, cutting edge engineering to social change
We are exploring ways to build stronger, more equitable communities. Technology can help remove systemic barriers that limit individual progress. We believe engineers can help accelerate discovery and scale solutions to facilitate social change. By pairing engineers with leaders in education, science, and other high-impact fields, we bring technology to the table in a very special way. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is uniquely positioned to design, build, and scale software systems to help educators, scientists, and policy experts already working on humanity’s greatest challenges.
Our technology team is already helping schools bring personalized learning tools to teachers and schools across the country and supporting scientists around the world as they develop a comprehensive reference atlas of all cells in the human body.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative believes that every child should enter adulthood able to recognize and realize their full potential. This means that by age 21, everyone should be able to earn a living wage, build independence, and identify and pursue their passions. We believe a whole child approach to personalized learning – focused on and led by the learner – is the most promising way to achieve this vision.
Our goal is to empower more teachers and school leaders to create learning environments that meet the unique needs, interests and learning preferences of each child while supporting them as a whole person – taking into account their physical, social and emotional development. Learners should also be able to make and demonstrate progress in the way that suits them best, at their own pace, inside and outside of the traditional classroom.
Every child is different. By connecting cutting edge research on the science of learning with world-class product design and engineering, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative aims to help every child access personalized educational experiences that can change the trajectory of their life.
Projects in Education
Our work is designed to make meaningful improvements in people’s lives. We will focus on four key milestones: kindergarten readiness; 3rd grade literacy; smooth transition to high school; and postsecondary success. Examples of projects we support include:
Summit Public Schools. Our team is working on the Summit Learning Platform, a free online tool that empowers teachers to customize instruction to meet the needs of each student and for students to learn at their own pace. This product was created by one of our grantees, Summit Public Schools, a network of schools that take a personalized approach to teaching and learning. Thousands of educators around the country are already using the Summit Learning model to connect students’ long-term objectives to daily class work, discover how each student learns best and create engaging real-world projects. It allows students to pace themselves and helps teachers set more meaningful goals. Our engineers are working to make this platform more robust and flexible so we can bring this incredible tool to more schools around the country.
The College Board. We are working with The College Board to help millions of students across the country – particularly in low-income and rural communities – better prepare for college and career. The College Board will expand access to unique, personalized learning opportunities – including customized SAT practice through Khan Academy, Advanced Placement computer science courses and peer advising through the National College Advising Corps. These resources have demonstrated the ability to help students improve their test scores and identify a program that best fits their needs and passions.
Vision to Learn. An estimated two million American elementary school students have correctable vision problems but lack access to basic eye care. If you can’t see, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with your grade level in reading and math. That’s why we support Vision To Learn, a nonprofit that provides free eye exams and glasses to tens of thousands of low income children around the country. We are particularly excited about this organization and its model because it helps more states draw on public dollars from reimbursement by Medicaid and other programs.
Justice & Opportunity
At CZI we want to be a part of creating a future where every person can enjoy meaningful work, take care of their families, and live in a just society. But in making that vision a reality, we face the challenge of breaking down barriers that keep individuals, families, and communities from reaching their full potential.
Many of the same families who face eviction and a broken criminal justice system are also struggling to earn a stable living. We are working to address these challenges and help families tackle systems that too often seem stacked against them, so that they have a better chance to get ahead and live a fulfilling life.
As a young organization, we certainly know we don’t have all the answers or even all the questions to ask. We’re starting by supporting the organizations, leaders, and communities working to address the affordable housing crisis starting in the Bay Area, create more opportunity for more people, and build better criminal justice and immigration systems. We believe we need to work with and for the people we serve — learning from and empowering organizations and leaders from the communities most affected by these challenges. Through these partnerships and collaborations, we hope to identify new solutions and help provide the tools and resources needed to apply them on a national scale.
Projects in Justice & Opportunity
Today, our work focuses on finding ways to strengthen our communities and help more families get ahead. We support organizations and partners working in four areas: Criminal Justice Reform, Economic Opportunity, Housing Affordability, and Immigration Reform.
Criminal Justice Reform. We want to support efforts to safely reduce the number of people imprisoned in the US and develop better approaches to keep our communities safe. We support policy reform efforts led by partners like Families Against Mandatory Minimums who advocates for bi-partisan safety solutions. We are also supporting organizations that train and support people closest to the problem, from JustLeadershipUSA, who work with individuals who have been incarcerated, to Fair and Just Prosecution, who are building a national network of prosecutors. We are also supporting tools like the Measures for Justice data portal that help us better understand the criminal justice system.
Economic Opportunity. We want to help more families get ahead and stay ahead. Over the years, technology and a more connected world have lifted a lot of people up, but it’s also left a lot of people behind. As a new organization just beginning work on issues that have persisted for decades, we are focused on supporting and learning from partners doing impactful work alongside the communities they serve. Some of our partner organizations are making use of technology to connect people to the work, training, financial resources, and services they need to succeed: Partners like Family Independence Initiative, who have built an online support network and community for low-income families while providing access to capital to invest in their health, education, and professional growth; Code for America, who are piloting ways to remove barriers and help people access government social safety net services more quickly to help them weather unexpected setbacks; and Opportunity@Work, who are working to shift hiring practices to help more people with skills and potential access opportunities to gain the jobs and training the need to succeed in today’s workplace.
Housing Affordability. Research shows us what we already know intuitively: that access to a safe, stable, affordable place to live is crucial to family success. However, broken housing markets and antiquated policies keep too many Americans from this critical need, especially in the Bay Area. We’re focused on supporting local partners who are developing and leading innovative approaches to addressing these challenges that we hope can be scaled to other communities across the US: Partners like Landed, who help local educators stay and afford homes in the communities where they teach; a new coalition of local housing leaders, who are coming together with their diverse constituencies to develop a regional solutions plan to address shared challenges; and the Terner Center at UC Berkeley, whose innovative research aims to shape policy and private sector solutions to housing issues nationally.
Immigration Reform. There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in America today left without a pathway to citizenship, including 2.1 million DREAMers who were brought to the US as children. These young people deserve the opportunity to fully contribute to American society and the economy. They deserve a fair shot – and the repeal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has created an urgent crisis. We support programs and partners that are working to make the American Dream achievable for everyone and advance policies to fix our broken system, like TheDream.US who provide college scholarships to student DREAMers around the country, and FWD.us who are working with partners to protect DREAMers and pass commonsense reforms.
Supporting science and technology that will help make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the century
It doesn’t mean that no one will ever get sick. But it does mean that doctors will be better able to detect and treat illness, so future generations spend less time sick.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative believes that collaboration is key to achieving breakthroughs that can help all our communities stay healthy and reach their full potential.
Interdisciplinary teams of physicians, biologists, computational scientists, and engineers can dramatically expand our understanding of the human body and illness — the very science behind medicine. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative backs these teams and builds software and experimental technologies to scale their efforts and empower the entire scientific community. In service of this ambitious goal, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative fosters collaboration between scientists and engineers, develops tools and technologies, and builds support for basic scientific research.
Projects in Science
Physician-scientists, experimental scientists, computational biologists and engineers are all needed for the next generation of medical advances. We will support their work through a variety of projects and resources, some of which are listed below.
The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. In September 2016, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan committed $600M over 10 years to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, an independent nonprofit research center that brings together physicians, scientists, and engineers from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University. The Biohub invests in early-stage research with long time horizons and supports the work of creative scientists by providing five years of unrestricted funding through its investigator program. Learn more.
The Human Cell Atlas. The Human Cell Atlas project is a global collaboration to map and characterize all cells in a healthy human body: cell types, numbers, locations, relationships, and molecular components. Once complete, it will be a fundamental resource for scientists, allowing them to better understand how healthy cells work, and what goes wrong when disease strikes. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is supporting the Human Cell Atlas by funding scientists with innovative ideas for the project, providing funding and engineering support to build a data coordination platform, and investing in the Biohub.
Knowledge Environments. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will accelerate the sharing and awareness of scientific knowledge by funding strong existing programs, and building tools to advance the field. As part of these efforts, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquired Meta in February 2017. Meta is a platform that uses artificial intelligence to help scientists read, analyze, prioritize, and draw insights across millions of scientific papers.We also recently announced a grant to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in support of their online platform, bioRxiv. This free service enables life science researchers to share drafts of their papers — known as preprints — before they appear in journals. CZI’s engineers will help Meta and bioRxiv scale to serve many more researchers at no cost.
Science Advisory Board
We can’t do this alone. Our Science Advisory Board informs our priorities and goals and allows us to draw on a wide range of expertise as we shape our strategy, establish partnerships and develop scientific projects. Members of the Board include: Tobias Bonhoeffer, Ph.D. (Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology), David Haussler, Ph.D. (University of California, Santa Cruz), Arthur Levinson, Ph.D. (CEO of California Life Sciences LLC), Shirley Tilghman, Ph.D. (president emerita of Princeton University), Robert Tjian, Ph.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California Berkeley), Harold Varmus, M.D. (Weill Cornell Medical College), Yuri Milner (DST Global), Huda Zoghbi, M.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Baylor College of Medicine)