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Mark Zuckerberg's latest attempt at education reform is his boldest yet.

The Primary School is the latest bit of education-related philanthropy from Zuckerberg and Chan.

Mark Zuckerberg's latest attempt at education reform is his boldest yet.

Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan announced they're opening a school. This is not an ordinary school, though.

It's called The Primary School, and it's being billed as "a new integrated health and education model dedicated to serving children and families in the communities of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven."

What does that actually mean? Zuckerberg elaborated a bit about the school's purpose in a post on his Facebook page, writing, "In addition to early childhood and K-12 education, The Primary School will also provide prenatal support for families and on-site healthcare for children."


How's this different from any other school? Essentially, it expands what we think of when we hear the word "school."

"By integrating education, health, and family support services starting at birth, TPS will expand the traditional definition of 'school' in order to prepare all children to succeed in college, career, and life," reads a post on the school's FAQ page.

And it makes sense! If kids aren't healthy, it's harder to learn. Providing medical care along with an education ensures that students have the best possible opportunity to succeed.

Chan says The Primary School is the result of looking for more effective ways to educate AND care for kids.

On her Facebook page, she explains that it's through her experience as both a pediatrician and her role running an after-school program that brought some of the education system's shortcomings to her attention.

"We need a better way of caring for and educating our children," she writes. "The effects of trauma and chronic stress create an invisible burden for children that makes it very difficult for them to be healthy and live up to their academic potential. We must address these issues holistically in order to allow children to succeed."

Chan and Zuckerberg attend last month's White House state dinner. Photo by Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images.

It's not the first time Zuckerberg and Chan have shown an interest in education reform, but it's their most personal.

Here are some education projects the couple has poured a decent chunk of change into:

Zuckerberg was one of the big-name investors in AltSchool, described as "a collaborative community of micro-schools that uses outstanding teachers, deep research, and innovative tools to offer a personalized, whole child learning experience for the next generation." It has been referred to as a type of "Montessori 2.0."

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

In 2010, he donated $100 million to Newark, New Jersey's public school system. Five years later, the general consensus is that his money wasn't especially well-spent by those charged with enacting Zuckerberg's requested reforms.

Just last year, Zuckerberg and Chan pledged a $120 million donation to Bay Area public schools.

But The Primary School is their most hands-on school reform project to date.

The Primary School could very well be a glimpse into the future of education. Or maybe not.

But no matter what, it's always great to see people with a lot of resources (such as Zuckerberg) put them to good use trying to improve the lives of others around them, especially to those underserved and disadvantaged in life. Right on, Zuck!

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When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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