The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Fights Global Poverty Amid COVID-19


SEATTLE, Washington — Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) with his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, in 2015. It is a limited liability company with the mission of using technology to promote global equality in science, education and justice. The CZI invests money into various nonprofits and companies worldwide that are working to improve technology accessibility and advancements to solve these problems. By entering into partnerships with a wide range of organizations, the CZI can make a difference in a wide range of issues. Here are some of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partnerships and investment organizations that are working to reduce global poverty and help underprivileged populations around the world.

Global Genes

One of the key Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partners is Global Genes, a global nonprofit organization that empowers people worldwide who suffer from rare diseases. CZI invested in the nonprofit as part of its Rare As One Project, which supports work being done to combat rare diseases. Moreover, Global Genes focuses on treating patients from various geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. It enables them to be more connected with rare disease patients around the world, and become more effective in its use of technology and data. Additionally, impoverished communities do not have access to these essential tools at the same rate as more advantageous communities, making Global Genes’ work of empowering underprivileged people even more crucial. With the support of the CZI, the nonprofit organization can reach more rare disease patients globally.


An essential part of the CZI is the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which focuses on supporting new developments in the biological community. The CZI and Biohub created an open-source platform called IDseq in 2018. IDseq can analyze terabytes of data in a sample to detect disease-causing pathogens. Furthermore, doctors and scientists worldwide can use the information that IDseq provides to track outbreaks and new diseases around the world and quickly respond to them.

IDseq has proven to be an incredibly useful tool for impoverished countries during the spread of COVID-19. These countries lack the healthcare infrastructure needed to track and contain the spread of the virus effectively. For example, Cambodia had been struggling to detect new cases due to a lack of resources. Yet, once scientists in Cambodia began using IDseq, they were able to see cases of the virus quickly and assembled an entire genome of the strain that was present in Cambodia. This is representative of the idea behind IDseq. Although Cambodia lacked resources, scientists were able to use this free tool to quickly and accurately measure the spread of COVID-19 in their country. As a result of the initiative, impoverished countries around the world can use this technology to protect their citizens from disease

International Society for Technology in Education

Another nonprofit organization that the CZI has invested in is the International Society for Technology in Education. The ISTE works globally to innovate accessibility to education with the use of technology. It provides the tools and training that educators need to implement technology in the classroom. This is especially important in impoverished countries, as they often lack crucial educational resources. Moreover, the presence of technology in educational settings can make a significant difference for both teachers’ and students’ morale, available resources and encouragement. Like many Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partners, ISTE has helped bring technology to people who would otherwise not have access to it.

As a part of its response to COVID-19, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has further invested in the ISTE to help provide online learning support as schools worldwide have had to halt in-person classes. This support includes a webinar series and a helpline to facilitate the transition to online education. This is incredibly helpful for schools in remote and underprivileged areas around the world. The financial support that Chan Zuckerberg Initiative provides is helping organizations like ISTE continue its crucial work amid the pandemic.

Looking Ahead

In the past five years, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has invested in and partnered with many great organizations and nonprofits to further its goal of promoting equality in the fields of science, education and justice. The work of the initiative has impacted people all over the world. Many Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partners are exploring ways that technology can be used to diminish global poverty and the investments that the CZI provides allow them to bring their findings worldwide.

—Gabriel Guerin
Photo: Flickr


Comments are closed.