Harvard Receives $12.1 Million Grant from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The money from Dr. Priscilla Chan and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will support low-income students engaging in public service.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan smiling

Photo via AP/Jeff Chiu

Harvard College, home of the $35.7 billion endowment, just got a little bit more help from its wealthy friends, with a $12.1 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The gift from CZI, a company founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, will support public service opportunities for low-income undergraduate students at Harvard. The money will be spread out over 15 years and will help cover the summer expenses of students on financial aid, in addition to creating scholarship and development opportunities, according to a press release.

More than 1,200 student volunteers engage with social action programs annually at Harvard, and at least 400 spend their summers doing service-related activities, according to a press release. This grant will encourage lower-income students to pursue their passions rather than feeling pressured into a more traditionally lucrative field due to cost constraints.

The grant’s target is particularly close to Chan, who graduated from Harvard in 2007 and received financial aid herself. As a student, Chan worked at an afterschool program in Dorchester’s public housing projects, a formative experience that she said “inspired [her] to pursue a career dedicated to serving children and families as a pediatrician and educator.”

The grant money, which will support up to 2,300 students, will be funneled through Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship. The center helps coordinate volunteering, internship, curricular, and postgraduate opportunities in public service.

In a statement, Gene Corbin, the assistant dean of Harvard College for Public Service, lauded the CZI contribution and emphasized the impact the grant will have on the student community.

“More than half our students become involved in an ongoing service program during their time at Harvard College,” Corbin said. “The Priscilla Chan Summer Service Award will be a huge step forward in ensuring that all students can participate in these transformative opportunities, and we hope others will follow CZI’s example in supporting these students’ desire to serve.”