Google Announces Winners of Its Bay Area Impact Challenge

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-06-06
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Google Announces Winners of Its Bay Area Impact Challenge

Spurred on by a competition organized by Google, San Francisco Bay Area residents chose the winners of four $500,000 grants that Google will now distribute to four local community nonprofit groups so they can fulfill imaginative projects.

Six other finalist groups each won $250,000 grants for their projects, while another 15 nonprofits previously received $100,000 each, according to a June 4 post by Jacquelline Fuller, the director of, on the Google Official Blog.

"Ten days ago, voting opened for Google's first Bay Area Impact Challenge, and now the tally is in," wrote Fuller. Residents were asked to cast online ballots to choose the winners of the competition. Some 191,504 votes were collected from May 22 through June 2, she wrote.

The winners of the $500,000 grants are Hack the Hood, which will address digital equity by training low-income youth to build Websites for local small businesses while gaining employment skills; the Center for Employment Opportunities, which will develop a tech platform to prepare formerly incarcerated people for employment in a digital world; The Health Trust, which will create new distribution channels for people to get affordable produce, expanding options for street vendors, corner stores and farmers' markets for underserved areas; and Bring Me A Book, which will work to give children access to digital books in multiple languages, while creating a supportive online community for parents and caregivers, according to Fuller.

In addition to the cash grants, each of the 25 winning Google Impact Challenge nonprofits will receive one year of accelerator support at Google's first-ever impact lab, which is a co-working space launched in partnership with Impact Hub SF, wrote Fuller. Impact Hub SF is a shared workspace for entrepreneurs committed to positive social and environmental change.

"Nonprofits will have access to networking events, meeting space, and development workshops in the Impact Hub SF, as well as membership to all U.S. Hub locations," she wrote. "We also plan to host community events for the Bay Area nonprofit community throughout the year—so check out our Website or follow us on Google+ to stay in the loop."

Google launched its Google Impact Challenge program in March 2014 to seek worthwhile community projects in the Bay Area that could be helped by grants from the company, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

Ideas for almost 1,000 of proposed projects came in for the Bay Area Impact Challenge, including for projects  such as providing training and job opportunities for people with disabilities, matching surplus medical supplies with community clinics, and bringing mobile showers and toilets to the homeless.

Google Announces Winners of Its Bay Area Impact Challenge

The six groups that won $250,000 grants are the Community Music Center, which spreads the joy of music to older adults; SubArt, which inspires subway riders with immersive public art; BUILD, which empowers high school kids through entrepreneurship; the Mission Asset Fund, which expands credit opportunities for hardworking families; Pogo Park, which revitalizes forgotten neighborhoods through play; and Beyond 12, which coaches students to thrive in college and beyond.

The 15 finalists that each received $100,000 grants are the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, which provides health outreach for Tenderloin teens via Short Message Service (SMS); the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which is a restorative justice hub for Oakland young adults with Community Works West; GLIDE, which is cloud-based document storage for the homeless; the Instituto Familiar de la Raza, a collective action effort to reduce violence in the Mission; Lava Mae, a program that provides mobile showers and toilets for the homeless; the Maker Education Initiative, which empowers educators to engage youth in making useful things; MedShare, which helps match surplus medical supplies with community clinics; and the Mural Music and Arts Project, which provides STEAM education through hip hop videos.

Also receiving $100,000 grants were the Museum of Children's Art, which is a library arts program for low-income Oakland families; New Door Ventures, which offers skill-building employment for at-risk youth; One Degree, which works to improve access to social services for low-income families; Opportunity Fund Northern California, which provides affordable microloans to help grow small businesses; PUEBLO, which provides a fresh food marketplace for communities; San Francisco Baykeeper, which encourages shoreline protection through mapping and outreach; and Toolworks, which provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Google often organizes grant programs for nonprofit groups.

In April 2014, Google announced a program in which it is offering grants to organizations that show how they could benefit from the use of Google Glass. The Giving Through Glass competition will award five U.S.-based organizations with a Glass device, $25,000, product support and more, including help from Google developers to make each of the winning Glass projects a reality. The program is an offshoot of one that Google launched in October 2013, when it began a Giving through Glass Explorer program to give a Glass device to five organizations, including the World Wildlife Foundation, to see how it could help them in their work.

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