Posted September 27, 2011, Chronicle of Philanthropy

After a year in which the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100-million grant to Newark, N.J.’s public schools often generated conflict and controversy, the city is seeing concrete results from the windfall, The Star-Ledger writes in an assessment marking the first anniversary of the donation.

So far $9-million of what locals call the “Facebook money” has been spent, producing four new experimental high schools, two new charter schools, an extended school day, and a call center for parental inquiries, among other changes.

The signs of progress mark a shift from the first months after Mr. Zuckerberg announced the gift on Oprah Winfrey’s television show in late September 2010.

Initial moves by Mayor Cory Booker’s administration, such as spending $1.5-million on surveys and consulting, aroused concerns among parents and legislators about how, and how transparently, the money was being used.

Since then the Newark school system has hired a new superintendent, and a new head is in place at the Foundation for Newark’s Future, the nonprofit organization set up to spend the five-year grant, which has been supplemented by $48-million in matching funds.

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