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Zuckerberg's charity pledge cements place in elite philanthropic class

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says he'll donate billions to charity in a letter addressed to his newborn. The donation tops "The Giving Pledge" list, which is a group dedicated to the support and investment of others.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan wrote a Facebook post Tuesday, which was addressed to their newborn Maxima Chan, pledging to give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares to charity.

Zuckerberg wrote that the shares, which are currently estimated at around 42 billion euros ($45 billion), will go towards the Chan Zuckerberg Iniative, a limited liability company controlled by the couple. The first of the donations are said to go towards personalized learning, curing disease, Internet connectivity and community building.

"As you begin the next generation of the Chan Zuckerberg family, we also begin the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation," Zuckerberg and his wife said in a post entitled

"A letter to our daughter,"

which received a massive outpouring of support from people all over the world.

Zuckerberg said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that he will "gift or otherwise direct" nearly all of his Facebook stock shares, or after-tax proceeds of sales of shares, to the Iniative.

He said he also plans to remain the head of Facebook for "many, many years to come."

Other donations by Zuckerberg

However, the huge donation isn't a first for Zuckerberg.

Earlier this year in November, he and his 30-year-old wife said in a Facebook post they would donate around 19 million euros ($20 million) in an effort to get high-speed Internet service to classrooms in the United States.

The couple also announced last year they would donate 113 million euros ($120 million) into San Francisco Bay Area schools, and more than five years ago Zuckerberg donated nearly 94 million euros ($100 million) for the improvement of schools and education in the New Jersey city of Newark, which was receiving a spike in failing grades.

But critics of the Facebook founder's first big donation to Newark say too much of it was funneled to high-priced consultants and outsiders who failed to improve outcomes for students.

In elite company

The couple's latest pledge of around 42 billion euros ($45 billion) has put them at the top of "The Giving Pledge" philanthropic class, which Zuckerberg first joined when he was 26 by donating more than 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in 2012 and 2013.

"The Giving Pledge" website describes the initiative as a "commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy."

It was started by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, and includes Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, stock market genius Warren Buffet and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, among hundreds of others.

Maxima Chan Zuckerberg was born early last week and weighed 7 lbs 8 ounces at birth.

Zuckerberg announced last month

that he would take two months of paternity leave after the birth of his daughter.

smm/gsw (AP, dpa, AFP)

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