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Two Big Financial Gifts Reflect Changing Face of School Fundraising

Private donations amounting to nearly $1 million to Camden and Newark come through high-tech pathways

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The school bake sale may still have its grassroots appeal, but Newark and Camden schools are showing how private fundraising has risen to a whole new level.

The two state-run districts yesterday announced two big donations that will inject nearly $1 million in private dollars into the two long-troubled school systems.

For Newark, the funds came from a familiar source: $700,000 donated by the Foundation for Newark’s Future, the fund launched four years ago with a $100 million donation from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

That funding, going to both district and charter schools under a much-touted agreement in 2011, is in its final year.

For Camden, the donors were not-so-famous: John Langan and Judy Nadell, a Camden County couple who have had a long history of supporting literacy efforts in Camden City schools, contributed $250,000 for the new school year.

Langan and Nadell, who did not attend yesterday’s announcement, are co-founders of Townsend Press, a publishing house based in nearby Berlin that specializes in literacy materials. The couple donated nearly $500,000 to a Camden literacy project in 2011.

In both cases, the donations also saw the districts partnering with online platforms which enable teachers nationwide to sign up to receive and manage donated money for school supplies. In each case, the bulk of the donated money will be distributed through such online funding mechanisms.

In Newark, it’s, with $100 going to each of 2,600 classroom teachers to help pay for school supplies. Camden’s tool of choice is, a more-established site that links individual teachers’ projects with private donors. That gift will match donations up to a total of $200,000 districtwide.

“Because of the Langans’ generosity, thousands of Camden students will be able to innovative with more technology, create with more art supplies, and experience more hands-on learning opportunities,” said Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard in announcing the donation.

“I am deeply grateful for their support, and I encourage our teachers to begin brainstorming how they can make the most of this extraordinary gift.”

In addition, FNF is giving $7,500 to each Newark district school for additional professional development and training. The Camden gift also includes an additional $50,000 for renovations to the library center of the city’s MetEast High School.

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