The couple announced the donation in an Op-Ed piece in the San Jose Mercury News and on NBC's Today. Chan, a doctor and former science teacher who met Zuckerberg while they were both students at Harvard, gave her first TV interview to the show.
"We live in Palo Alto, which has, fortunately, one of the greatest school districts in the country," Chan told Today. "But right next door, actually within walking distance of our home, is East Palo Alto that has a K-8 system that has a lot of unmet needs that the public school district is struggling to make up the difference for at this time."
In 2010, Zuckerberg gave $100 million to the schools in Newark, N.J., through his Startup: Education foundation, forming an alliance with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who was then the city's mayor.
Zuckerberg and Chan said San Francisco schools would get the first $5 million, to be used for technology upgrades. Money will also be used to create new charter schools and improve existing ones, for programs to help eighth graders make the move to high school, and for teacher training.
Chan, who attended public schools in Quincy, Mass., said her own time as a teacher and a stint her husband put in teaching in an after-school program recently helped form their ideas.
"Through those experiences and seeing the disparity that's in the Bay Area, our own community, where we really take a lot of pride in, we want to make this gift," Chan said. "And we want to continue to be involved in helping improve equality for all of our local kids."