On Tuesday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced the exciting news that they had welcomed their daughter, Max, into the world. Immediately afterwards, in the same statement, they essentially overshadowed that bit of news with a much more bombshell announcement. In an open letter to their daughter, Zuckerberg and Chan announced that they'd be giving 99 percent of their Facebook shares to charity over their lifetimes, which is a dizzying $45 billion. But the letter was so much more than these two whopper announcements. Zuckerberg and Chan's letter to their daughter described the many ways in which the current generation could help improve the world for her and future generations to come.
In the letter, which Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page, the proud parents tell their new daughter — and, incidentally, the world — about their new philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which aims to "advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation." Zuckerberg and Chan further explain:
Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.
It is toward these goals that the couple will be donating the vast majority of their wealth. As if that weren't impressive enough, they then humbly note in the statement:
We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.
Zuckerberg and Chan's generosity and humility are truly inspirational, but perhaps their most powerful trait is their ability to make anyone feel like they can make a difference in the world. Here are eight quotes from the couple's letter that will do just that.
"While headlines often focus on what's wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting."
"Curing disease will take time. Over short periods of five or ten years, it may not seem like we're making much of a difference. But over the long term, seeds planted now will grow, and one day, you or your children will see what we can only imagine: a world without suffering from disease."
"Students around the world will be able to use personalized learning tools over the internet, even if they don't live near good schools. Of course it will take more than technology to give everyone a fair start in life, but personalized learning can be one scalable way to give all children a better education and more equal opportunity."
"People often think of the internet as just for entertainment or communication. But for the majority of people in the world, the internet can be a lifeline.... If our generation connects them, we can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty."
"Children have the best opportunities when they can learn. And they learn best when they're healthy. Health starts early — with loving family, good nutrition and a safe, stable environment."
"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."
"By partnering with schools, health centers, parent groups and local governments, and by ensuring all children are well fed and cared for starting young, we can start to treat these inequities as connected."
"Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children. We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world."