Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has gathered technology luminaries to start an advocacy group focused on immigration and education.
In an op-ed piece he wrote for The Washington Post, Zuckerberg announced the formation of FWD.us to advocate a bi-partisan political agenda to support what he calls a knowledge economy. The group will focus on immigration reform that includes both border security and a path to citizenship, along with higher school standards and support for teachers.
The group also will push for investments in scientific research.
"As leaders of an industry that has benefited from this economic shift, we believe that we have a responsibility to work together to ensure that all members of our society gain from the rewards of the modern knowledge economy," he wrote. "We will work with members of Congress from both parties, the administration and state and local officials. We will use online and offline advocacy tools to build support for policy changes, and we will strongly support those willing to take the tough stands necessary to promote these policies in Washington."
At this point, members of FWD.us include Eric Schmidt, executive chairman and former CEO of Google; Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo; Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and Drew Houston, the founder and CEO of Dropbox.
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said he's not surprised that Zuckerberg, who donated $100 million to the Newark, N.J. school system in 2010, is getting involved in a political group.
"He's achieved a great degree of success with Facebook, made a fortune a few times over, and, with Facebook stable, he's probably looking for that next big challenge," Olds added.
However, Olds noted that if FWD.us doesn't put forward some specific ideas and ways to accomplish them, then they won't have much of an impact.
In his op-ed piece, Zuckerberg wrote about meeting young students -- potentially future entrepreneurs -- who aren't able to go to college because they're undocumented citizens who were moved here when they were babies or young children.
"These students are smart and hardworking, and they should be part of our future," he wrote. "We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it's a policy unfit for today's world."
Olds said the group that Zuckerberg has pulled together has enough influence and star power to garner attention for whatever they're working on.
"Can the techies make a difference?" he asked. "Individually and in their new group, they can certainly get their voices heard by the public and can probably get on the calendar of any elected official."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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