Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Donates $3 Million to Help Reimagine Education

By Elijah Labby Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Last week, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey donated $3 million to BUILD, which is working to reimagine digital education and advance racial equality amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift, made through Dorsey’s #StartSmall Initiative, will help BUILD develop and scale their COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge, where students “apply real world project-based learning and design thinking to create youth-driven solutions for mental and physical wellness during the pandemic.”

Dorsey created #StartSmall in April, moving $1 billion of his equity from his mobile payment company Square in order to fund global COVID-19 relief.

“I’m moving $1B of my Square equity… to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief. After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and [universal basic income]. It will operate transparently, all flows tracked here,” Dorsey tweeted at the time.

Ayele Shakur, CEO of BUILD, said the investment would help the organization as they seek to transform online learning.

“#StartSmall’s investment will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of young people across the nation who are grappling with COVID-19 right now as they head back to school,” she said. “This grant will serve as a catalyst to accelerate our digital transformation and ultimately enable BUILD to provide entrepreneurship education to youth in underserved communities across the nation.”

Shakur also plans to use the money for BUILD’s “Campus Without Walls,” which aims to break down barriers between virtual and physical schooling as well as allow underserved students to access learning resources regardless of where they live.

Over the next three years, BUILD wants to bring youth entrepreneurship to 100 thousand students nationwide.

Dorsey has donated to several organizations, including America’s Food Fund, Khan Academy, Ms. Foundation for Women, the Boston University Anti-Racism Center, and The Unity Council, among others.

Dorsey’s charitable donation comprised around 28% of his net worth at the time. Since then, his worth has climbed to $10 billion.

The 43-year-old self-made billionaire has seen considerable success from Twitter and Square, both of which he co-founded. This success, however, has come with turbulence.

From Dorsey’s ousting from Twitter to his laying off 300 employees when he was named CEO in 2015, to a July 2015 hack that saw the Twitter accounts of former president Barack Obama, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, and over 100 other accounts tweeting requests for Bitcoin, Dorsey’s tenure at Twitter has not been smooth.

At a Senate Commerce Committee meeting on October 28, Dorsey will face heated questioning about the hack as well as allegedly anti-competitive activity.

The Committee has already subpoenaed Dorsey, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg in advance of the hearing. Dorsey did not participate in July’s Big Tech hearing that saw Zuckerberg and Pichai (as well as Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Tim Cook of Apple) defend their companies from heavy bipartisan scrutiny.

For Democrats, the hearing will likely focus on misinformation, election security, and potential antitrust violations. For Republicans, however, the hearing will probably be concerned with anti-conservative bias, which President Trump and the GOP have claimed permeates Big Tech platforms.

“We all think the free market is great. We think competition is great. We love the fact that these are American companies,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH. “But what’s not great is censoring people, censoring conservators and trying to impact elections. And if it doesn’t end, there has to be consequences.”

Twitter, who has denied these allegations, has said that they have no interest in discussing anything but election security.

In a tweet, the Twitter Public Policy account said that the hearing “must be constructive & focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections.”

However, it is unlikely that the increasingly hawkish Republican-led committee will oblige this request.

"There has never been such an aggregation of power in the history of humankind as big tech enjoys today, with money and monopoly, power and the hubris that comes with the unchecked use of power," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, said after the committee voted to subpoena the CEOs.

In a 2018 hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Dorsey said Twitter was working with government entities to cut down on abuse of the platform.

“Twitter continues to engage in intensive efforts to identify and combat state-sponsored
hostile attempts to abuse social media for manipulative and divisive purposes,” he said “...Our work on this issue is not done, nor will it ever be. The threat we face requires extensive partnership and collaboration with our government partners and industry peers. We each possess information the other does not have, and the combined information is more powerful in combating these threats.”

About the Author

Headshot of Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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