Apple's $100 million donation to schools isn't enough, it 'should be giving billions,' says Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Earlier this week, Salesforce announced yet another multi-million donation to the San Francisco public school system, its home town.

The Salesforce Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, is donating $US6 million this time, bringing its total three-year gift to nearly $US14 million. It has also adopted 20 schools and will send employees to volunteer in them for 10,000 collective hours this school year.

Billionaire Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been an outspoken advocate for philanthropy. He often chides the tech industry — and other tech billionaires — for not donating more.

In an interview on Monday with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, he applauded the generosity of tech companies based in his home town of San Francisco and dissed the tech giants of Silicon Valley located 30 minutes to an hour’s drive south of the city, which includes companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Intel, Yahoo.

Silicon Valley has an incredible history of stinginess. So we are fighting the tide there, I agree. But we’re seeing more generosity from San Francisco tech companies than we’ve ever seen from Silicon Valley-based tech companies. You just see that across the board, where the largest and and most important tech companies in San Francisco are giving more than ever before, it’s unprecedented.

That comment refers in part to what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is doing for education reform. He and his wife pledged to give $US120 million in grants to high-poverty schools in the Bay Area last year.

Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffBloomberg TVSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Benioff likes such efforts but said that money alone isn’t really going to help the schools.

We offer a full package. We’re not just about the money, because money alone isn’t going to solve anybody’s problems. It’s about the money, its about technology and it’s about people.

So naturally, Benioff really isn’t impressed with Apple’s pledge this summer to provide disadvantaged schools nationwide with $US100 million in iPads, Macbooks, and other products, along with professional development tools.

Apple’s commitment was part of the bigger ConnectedED program, where a dozen tech companies vowed to donate hundreds of millions of tech to needy schools.

Apple’s pledge wasn’t the biggest in this program. Adobe, based in Silicon Valley in San Jose, is providing schools with more than $US300 million worth of free software. And Autodesk, based in San Francisco, will make its 3D design program “Design the Future” available for free to every secondary school in the U.S., a gift it says is worth over $US250 million.

Benioff believes Apple, in particular, should be doing much more. He said:

I think its great that Apple is going to give $US100 million dollars to public schools, but I think Apple should be giving billions of dollars to public schools and I’ll tell you why. Because Apple has reaped a huge harvest from these public schools.

If you go through these public school classrooms, and you open up their closets, you’ll find old Apple IIs, you’re going to find old Macs, you’re going to find old iPads. I mean Apple has built a lot of its history on the K-12 market and it should be giving back in a MASSIVE way to the public schools. And I think $US100 million is great, but I hope that’s just a start.

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