Google Launches Effort to Help Nonprofits in Bay Area

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-05-25
Google nonprofit community projects

Google Launches Effort to Help Nonprofits in Bay Area

Google is seeking online votes from San Francisco Bay Area residents to help select the four best projects by community nonprofit groups that will receive grant awards of $500,000 each. Six more local nonprofit groups will also be selected to each receive $250,000 grants under the program.

The awards are part of the Google Impact Challenge program, which was launched in March 2014 to seek worthwhile community projects in the Bay Area that could be helped by grants from Google.

"Local nonprofit heroes are making a difference in our community, and we want to do more to support them," wrote Jacquelline Fuller, director of, in a May 22 post on the Google Official Blog. "As part of that mission, we recently launched a Bay Area Impact Challenge with a question: Working together, what can we do to make the Bay Area an even better place to live?"

The range of proposed projects totaled almost 1,000 ideas, wrote Fuller, including ideas 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.

Five local community advisors—Aida Alvarez, the chairwoman of the Latino Community Foundation and the former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; Norman Mineta, a former mayor of San Jose and a former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Teresa Deloach Reed, the fire chief of Oakland, Calif.; Rev. Cecil Williams, the founder and minister of liberation at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church; and Barry Zito, a Major League Baseball player and philanthropist—joined Google's Fuller to narrow the initial pool of entries down to the top 10 finalists, according to the post. "Each project was selected for its community impact, ingenuity, scalability and feasibility," according to the post.

Bay Area residents can now cast their votes for the projects they'd like to see funded by Google. Each participant is being asked to select their four choices from the top 10 finalists. Fifteen other projects from other nonprofit groups finished outside the top 10 but have received grants of $100,000 each in support of their work as part of the program.

Votes will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. PST on June 2.

The 10 Bay Area nonprofit group finalists 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; Bring Me a Book, which supports early childhood literacy through books and online community; and The Health Trust, which works to increase fresh food access for low-income families.

Also included in the finalists are Hack the Hood, which helps to jump-start tech careers for low-income youths; the Mission Asset Fund, which expands credit opportunities for hardworking families; Pogo Park, which revitalizes forgotten neighborhoods through play; Beyond 12, which coaches students to thrive in college and beyond; and the Center for Employment Opportunities, which provides jobs and support for formerly incarcerated people.

"The Impact Challenge invited nonprofits to share their bright ideas for a better Bay Area," the competition's Website states. "An impressive roster from fields like education, housing, youth engagement and more came to participate."

Google Launches Effort to Help Nonprofits in Bay Area

In addition to the cash grants, the winners will also receive support from Google as well as access to co-working space to bring their ideas to life, according to Google.

Participants can download a Voter's Guide with more information and snapshots of the nonprofits as they prepare to vote, according to Google.

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 a 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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