Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

Supporting underrepresented founders with Backstage Accelerator

As a first-time Black founder from South Carolina, Harold Hughes isn’t your stereotypical startup CEO.  Despite his infectious enthusiasm and extensive sales experience, more than 140 investors passed on Bandwagon, his analytics company for sports venues, teams and fans. But after three years of no’s, Harold finally received a resounding yes with funding from Backstage Capital at the 2016 Google for Startups Black Founders Immersion Program. Not fitting in was exactly why Harold was the perfect fit for Backstage Capital’s team of “venture catalysts.”

“I found out later that Backstage saw more than 2,000 companies, and we were one of the startups they bet on,” remembers Harold. “I've always appreciated their team for believing in us early on and helping us find additional investors, minimize our costs, and amplify our message.”

Backstage Capital shares our belief that great ideas can come from anywhere, and we want to help them support more founders like Harold. So we’re partnering to help scale their new Backstage Accelerator, a three-month program for diverse founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, London and Philadelphia. In addition to initial investments, Backstage Accelerator helps startups reach their next critical milestone, with a team of experienced investors, experts and mentors. And now, they’ll get support from Google, too. Over the next year, each startup will be connected with Google advisors and product experts, onsite workshops in Google spaces, and access to the Google network of resources and support.

Backstage Accelerator is a natural addition to the 50+ organizations in the growing Google for Startups partner network. This year, we're supporting organizations like Founder Gym, Veteran Capital, and SheStarts to help level the playing field for underrepresented founders, connecting them to the resources and network they need to grow. Together, we can close the funding gap and open doors for founders of all backgrounds.

We’re proud to work alongside Backstage Accelerator to change the face of startup success. But don't just take our word for it. Join us in celebrating the incredible companies being built by Backstage Accelerator founders, featured this month on the Google for Startups Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels.

Stonewall Forever: Honoring LGBTQ+ history through a living monument

Many people have shaped my life—my parents who brought me into the world; Miss Moran, my fifth grade teacher, who pushed me to be a better student; my late mentor Bill McCarthy who helped guide my career early in my professional life. But perhaps the most meaningful people in my life are my husband, whom I have been with for nearly 30 years, and my son, who gives me more joy (and a fair amount of frustration) than I could have ever imagined. For them, I owe thanks in large part to a valiant handful of New Yorkers whom I've never me. Their act of defiance ultimately enabled me to live, love and be who I am.

It was early in the morning on Saturday, June 28, 1969, when the police raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, one of the few places at the time where LGBTQ people could gather openly. New Yorkers fought back. This altercation, known as the Stonewall Riots, led to angry protests that lasted for days and sparked the modern fight for LGBTQ rights around the world.

In 2016, President Obama designated Christopher Park, the small triangle of green that sits in front of the Stonewall Inn, as the first national monument dedicated to telling the story of this community’s struggle. The Stonewall National Monument serves as a reminder of the continuing fight for civil and human rights.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. To recognize this pivotal moment in history, the LGBT Community Center of New York City (The Center) spearheaded the creation of Stonewall Forever, an interactive “living monument” to 50 years of Pride. Google provided support in the form of a $1.5 million grant from Google.org, and volunteers from Google Creative Lab helped bring the experience to life.

Stonewall Forever connects diverse voices from the Stonewall era to the millions of voices in today’s LGBTQ community. The monument is made up of countless colorful pieces that contain digitized historical artifacts, oral histories capturing the early days of the movement, interviews with new voices of LGBTQ equality, and photos and messages added by people around the world.

Anyone can visit Stonewall Forever on the web, and through an augmented reality app that allows you to experience the Stonewall National Monument in New York’s Christopher Park. Explore the past, present and future of Pride and then add your own piece to the ever-growing monument. You can dive deeper by watching a short documentary, directed by Ro Haber, featuring an inclusive array of activists, from across generations, each giving their own interpretation of the Stonewall legacy.

Beyond our support of Stonewall Forever, we’re launching Pride Forever, a campaign honoring the past, present, and future of the LGBTQ+ community. This theme is rooted in sharing the past 50 years of global LGBTQ+ history with our users. Today’s interactive Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride by taking us through its evolution over the decades, with animated illustrations by Doodler Nate Swinehart.  

Google Arts & Culture is also preserving even more archives and stories from LGBTQ history, in partnership with The Center,GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco, the National Park Service’s Stonewall Monument, and Cyark. The collection includes never-before-seen photos and videos, 3D models of the Stonewall monuments, and a virtual walking tour of LGBTQ sites in the Village.

Here are a few other ways we’re helping people celebrate Pride.

  • Like past years, we’ll identify major Pride parade routes on Google Maps.
  • Later this month, check out Google Play for apps, movies, books, and audiobooks to help the LGBTQ+ community share stories and also learn more about the history of LGBTQ+ rights.
  • And through Google My Business, business owners can mark their businesses as “LGBTQ-friendly” and as a “Transgender Safe Space” on their Google listing to let customers know they’re always welcome. As of today, more than 190,000 businesses have enabled these attributes on their business listing.

Today, Stonewall lives on in images, histories and monuments—old and new. It also lives on in the LGBTQ community and its supporters. The past paves the way for the future, and Stonewall Forever reminds us that alone we’re strong, but together we’re unstoppable. Pride is forever.

Source: Google LatLong


Finding my authentic self, from the outside looking in

As a child growing up in West Virginia, I have a distinct memory of looking at all of our silverware. Our forks, knives and spoons had the letter “S” engraved on them. I asked my mother why, and she said, “Oh, that’s because that’s our last name.” (My maiden name was Sui.) It was only later in life, after I went to college, that I realized where the S really came from.

My parents immigrated from China via Taiwan during the Cultural Revolution. They both came from very modest backgrounds and my father came to the U.S. with $5 in his pocket. He was a dishwasher at the Sheraton at night while he was doing his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. And the Sheraton gifted them the silverware as a wedding gift.

My mom and dad worked incredibly hard to support us as a family. And as one of two Asian families in my town, assimilation was important to them. They wanted us to fit in, not stand out. They wanted us to only speak English, and now I speak Chinese very poorly. But my parents' emphasis on assimilation didn't stop me from facing adversity because of who I am. I had to fight to get the recognition I deserved, and that fight served me well through the rest of my career.

The plus side of being in a small town is everyone knows you. But the downside is that people are deeply critical about anyone who is different. I was on the student council, and would walk into another homeroom to make an announcement and have a whole bunch of kids make racist comments. Sadly, the teacher would do absolutely nothing.

All of us have that moment of being the “other.” Being the “other” meant that I had to work harder to be treated the same as everyone else. I had to work harder to get the same awards because of prejudices that I couldn’t articulate at the time.

It scars you. I repressed much of it and was very angry about it which drove me to think, “I'm going to show you all.” The best thing I did was deciding to go to Stanford. It was a gift to go to a place where I could meet people from all walks of life, and all types and sizes and religions and colors. You start to rethink who you are.

All of us have that moment of being the 'other.' Carol Carpenter

I think it’s critical to learn from the past and to determine what is authentic to you. And now that it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I’ve had a chance to reflect on how my past, how that's affected my path, and the lessons I've learned along the way. If you've been a high achiever, you've been around other high achievers and you have beliefs about who you should be or what you should be doing. I’ve had team members come into my office and say, “By the time I’m 30, I want to be a CEO.” These are extrinsic beliefs, not intrinsic beliefs. You need to know for yourself: Where are your lines? Which lines are you not going to cross? What really matters to you? What are you going to go to bat for and fight for, even if your job is on the line?” That's when you can be the best you can be. That's when you'll do your best work.

I’m grateful to be at Google, which is an extraordinary company when it comes to accepting all the “others” and working actively to promote respect and inclusion. As a leader, I have a desire to mentor and help others find their sweet spot and thrive, and it’s important to me that no one feels like the “other” on our team. No doubt, we have work to do in our workplace and community, but I see green shoots of progress every day. I’m so excited to see the green shoots blossom!

Tech Exchange students reflect on their future careers

What if this was your day? At 10 a.m., explore the impact of cybersecurity on society. Over lunch, chat with a famous YouTuber. Wrap up the day with a tour of the Google X offices. Then, head home to work on a machine intelligence group project.

Sound out of the ordinary? For the 65 students participating in Google’s Tech Exchange program, this has been their reality over the last nine months.

Tech Exchange, a student exchange program between Google and 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), hosts students at Google’s Mountain View campus and engages them in a variety of applied computer science courses. The curriculum includes machine learning, product management, computational theory and database systems, all co-taught by HBCU/HSI faculty and Google engineers.

Tech Exchange is one way Google makes long-term investments in education in order to increase pathways to tech for underrepresented groups. We caught up with four students to learn about their experiences, hear about their summer plans and understand what they’ll bring back to their home university campuses.

Taylor Roper

Taylor Roper

Howard University

Summer Plans:BOLD Internship with the Research and Machine Intelligence team at Google

What I loved most:“If I could take any of my Tech Exchange classes back to Howard, it would be Product Management. This was such an amazing class and a great introduction into what it takes to be a product manager. The main instructors were Googlers who are currently product managers. Throughout the semester, we learned how design, engineering and all other fields interpret the role of a product manager. Being able to ask experts questions was very insightful and helpful.”

Vensan Cabardo

Vensan Cabardo

New Mexico State University

Summer Plans:Google’s Engineering Practicum Program

Finding confidence and comrades:“As much as I love my friends back home, none of them are computer science majors, and any discussion on my part about computer science would fall on deaf ears. That changed when I came to Tech Exchange. I found people who love computing and talking about computing as much as I do. As you do these things and as you travel through life, there may be a voice in your head telling you that you made it this far on sheer luck alone, that you don’t belong here, or that your accomplishments aren’t that great. That’s the imposter syndrome talking. That voice is wrong. Internalize your success, internalize your achievements, and recognize that they are the result of your hard work, not just good luck.”

Pedro Luis Rivera Gómez

Pedro Luis Rivera Gómez

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

Summer Plans:Software Engineering Internship at Google

The value of a network:“A lesson that I learned during the Tech Exchange program that has helped a lot is to establish a network and promote peer-collaboration. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and when we are working on a project and do not have much experience, you can get stuck on a particular task. Having a network increases the productivity of the whole group. When one member gets stuck, they can ask a peer for advice.”


Garrett Tolbert

Garrett Tolbert

Florida A&M University

Summer Plans:Applying to be a GEM Fellow

Ask all the questions: “One thing I will never forget from Tech Exchange is that asking questions goes beyond the classroom. Everyone in this program has been so accessible and helpful with accommodating me for things I never thought were possible. Being in this program has showed me that if you don’t know, just ask! Research the different paths you can take within tech, and see which paths interest you. Then, find people who are in those fields and connect with them.”


Affirming the identities of teachers and students in the classroom through #ISeeMe

Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to have Kristina Joye Lyles from DonorsChoose.org as a guest author, sharing about teaming up with Google.org to launch the #ISeeMe campaign.

I joined DonorsChoose.org in 2013 and have long been working with organizations like Google.org who share our belief in the power of teachers. To date, Google.org has provided over $25 million to support classrooms on DonorsChoose.org, and last week, they committed an additional $5 million to teachers, with a focus on supporting diverse and inclusive classrooms. Together, we’re kicking off #ISeeMe, a new effort to enable teachers and students across the country to celebrate their identities in their classrooms.

As a military brat, I attended many public schools across the U.S. but only had two teachers of color from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My teachers and professors of color had a particularly strong impact on me as mentors and role models; I was encouraged to see them as leaders in our school community, and their presence alone showed me that diversity and representation matter.

My story is like those of so many others. Research shows that students benefit from seeing themselves in their teachers and learning resources. For example, black students who have just one black teacher between third and fifth grade are 33 percent more likely to stay in school. Girls who attend high schools with a higher proportion of female STEM teachers are 19 percent more likely to graduate from college with a science or math major.

With this support from Google.org, teachers who are underrepresented in today’s public school classrooms--like teachers of color and female math and science teachers-- as well as all teachers looking to create more inclusive classrooms will get the support they need and deserve. Teachers from all backgrounds can take steps toward creating classrooms that reflect their students, whether they’re selecting novels with diverse characters to discuss or taking trainings to learn more about meeting the needs of students from culturally diverse backgrounds. And we’re eager to help them bring their ideas to life so that more students can see themselves reflected in their classrooms.

I’m thrilled that many teachers on DonorsChoose.org are already coming up with inspiring ways to foster classroom environments where every student can feel important and included.  Mr. Yung sees the power of food to bring his students together across different cultural backgrounds. Ms. McLeod is determined to bring her students from Lumberton, North Carolina, to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Toro-Maysaspires to bring her bilingual students books with culturally relevant heroes and heroines.

We hope you’ll join us and the philanthropists of various backgrounds who have lit the torch for #ISeeMe today. If you are a public school teacher, you can set up an #ISeeMe classroom project right now at DonorsChoose.org. You can also access free inclusive classroom resources and ideas created for educators, by educators at any time in Google’s Teacher Center. And for those of you who have been inspired by a teacher, we invite you to explore classroom projects that are eligible for Google.org’s #ISeeMe donation matching—we would love to have your support for these teachers and classrooms.

“Dancing with a machine:” Bill T. Jones on AI and art

In early 2019, the Google Creative Lab partnered with Bill T. Jones, a pioneering choreographer, two-time Tony Award Winner, MacArthur Fellow, National Medal of the Arts Honoree, and artistic director and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company of New York Live Arts. We teamed up to explore the creative possibilities of speech recognition and PoseNet, which is Google’s machine-learning model that estimates human poses in real time in the browser.

We sat down with Bill to hear his reflections on working at the intersection of art, technology, identity and the body. Try out the experiments and watch a short film about the collaboration at g.co/billtjonesai

Why did you collaborate with Google on AI experiments?

The idea of machine learning intrigues me. The theme of our company’s Live Ideas Fest this year is artificial intelligence. AI is supposed to take us into the next century and important things are supposed to be happening with this technology, so I wanted to see if we could use it to stir real human emotion. Maybe it’s ego, but I want to be the one to know how to use PoseNet to make somebody cry. How do you get the technology to be weighted with meaning and import?

How have you experimented with technology over the course of your career?

Back in the ‘80s, Arnie Zane [Jones’s partner and company co-founder] and I decided we didn’t want to work with technology anymore because the pure art of sweat and bodies on stage should be enough. Technology just steals your thunder. Then a friend said, “Technology can suggest the beyond. Technology can project what is at stake when you die. When you see these figures, they’re no longer human, they’re something else.” So we started working with more state-of-the-art technologies. Later, I did a project called “Ghostcatching” with 3D motion capture. At that time, the team was saying, “we want to capture your movement so that in 50 years we could reconstitute your performance.” That’s how people were thinking years ago, and seems to still be a preoccupation now. They said they wanted to “decouple me from my personality.” Maybe I’m romantic, but I don't think that’s possible. So, my focus with this project was not on how to replace the performer, but complement them.

What was it like experimenting with AI?

I’ve never collaborated with a machine before. It's a whole other learning curve. We are taught in the art world that you don’t get many chances. This experience contrasted that notion. It was refreshing to co-create with the Google team whose approach was playful and iterative.

Were there moments you felt this technology was in the service of dance? 

In the service of dance? I say this with great respect: it's almost antithetical to everything I thought dance was. The webcam’s field of vision determines a lot about how we move. Dance for us is often times in an empty room that implies infinite space. But working with a webcam, there is a very prescribed space. Limitations are not bad in art making, but they were a new challenge. It was a shift creating something for the screen and not the stage.

What was it like shifting from creating for the stage to the screen?

I felt like I was being asked: Come out of the place that you as an artist come from, the avant-garde. Come and work with a medium that's available to millions of people. That's wonderful, but it's also a responsibility. The meaningful things people make with this are going to be very weird in a way, aren't they? Very kind of exciting. I'm appreciative of being part of the development of this.

Where do you see AI going? Will you work with it more in the future? 

I understand context is the next frontier in machine learning. This seems paramount for art making. I hope one day soon they make a machine I can dance with. I’d like to dance with a machine, just to see what that’s like.

“Dancing with a machine:” Bill T. Jones on AI and art

In early 2019, the Google Creative Lab partnered with Bill T. Jones, a pioneering choreographer, two-time Tony Award Winner, MacArthur Fellow, National Medal of the Arts Honoree, and artistic director and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company of New York Live Arts. We teamed up to explore the creative possibilities of speech recognition and PoseNet, which is Google’s machine-learning model that estimates human poses in real time in the browser.

We sat down with Bill to hear his reflections on working at the intersection of art, technology, identity and the body. Try out the experiments and watch a short film about the collaboration at g.co/billtjonesai

Why did you collaborate with Google on AI experiments?

The idea of machine learning intrigues me. The theme of our company’s Live Ideas Fest this year is artificial intelligence. AI is supposed to take us into the next century and important things are supposed to be happening with this technology, so I wanted to see if we could use it to stir real human emotion. Maybe it’s ego, but I want to be the one to know how to use PoseNet to make somebody cry. How do you get the technology to be weighted with meaning and import?

How have you experimented with technology over the course of your career?

Back in the ‘80s, Arnie Zane [Jones’s partner and company co-founder] and I decided we didn’t want to work with technology anymore because the pure art of sweat and bodies on stage should be enough. Technology just steals your thunder. Then a friend said, “Technology can suggest the beyond. Technology can project what is at stake when you die. When you see these figures, they’re no longer human, they’re something else.” So we started working with more state-of-the-art technologies. Later, I did a project called “Ghostcatching” with 3D motion capture. At that time, the team was saying, “we want to capture your movement so that in 50 years we could reconstitute your performance.” That’s how people were thinking years ago, and seems to still be a preoccupation now. They said they wanted to “decouple me from my personality.” Maybe I’m romantic, but I don't think that’s possible. So, my focus with this project was not on how to replace the performer, but complement them.

What was it like experimenting with AI?

I’ve never collaborated with a machine before. It's a whole other learning curve. We are taught in the art world that you don’t get many chances. This experience contrasted that notion. It was refreshing to co-create with the Google team whose approach was playful and iterative.

Were there moments you felt this technology was in the service of dance? 

In the service of dance? I say this with great respect: it's almost antithetical to everything I thought dance was. The webcam’s field of vision determines a lot about how we move. Dance for us is often times in an empty room that implies infinite space. But working with a webcam, there is a very prescribed space. Limitations are not bad in art making, but they were a new challenge. It was a shift creating something for the screen and not the stage.

What was it like shifting from creating for the stage to the screen?

I felt like I was being asked: Come out of the place that you as an artist come from, the avant-garde. Come and work with a medium that's available to millions of people. That's wonderful, but it's also a responsibility. The meaningful things people make with this are going to be very weird in a way, aren't they? Very kind of exciting. I'm appreciative of being part of the development of this.

Where do you see AI going? Will you work with it more in the future? 

I understand context is the next frontier in machine learning. This seems paramount for art making. I hope one day soon they make a machine I can dance with. I’d like to dance with a machine, just to see what that’s like.

How DIVA makes Google Assistant more accessible

My 21 year old brother Giovanni loves to listen to music and movies. But because he was born with congenital cataracts, Down syndrome and West syndrome, he is non-verbal. This means he relies on our parents and friends to start or stop music or a movie.  

Over the years, Giovanni has used everything from DVDs to tablets to YouTube to Chromecast to fill his entertainment needs. But as new voice-driven technologies started to emerge, they also came with a different set of challenges that required him to be able to use his voice or a touchscreen. That’s when I decided to find a way to let my brother control access to his music and movies on voice-driven devices without any help. It was a way for me to give him some independence and autonomy.

Working alongside my colleagues in the Milan Google office, I set up Project DIVA, which stands for DIVersely Assisted. The goal was to create a way to let people like Giovanni trigger commands to the Google Assistant without using their voice. We looked at many different scenarios and methodologies that people could use to trigger commands, like pressing a big button with their chin or their foot, or with a bite.  For several months we brainstormed different approaches and presented them at different accessibility and tech events to get feedback.

We had a bunch of ideas on paper that looked promising. But in order to turn those ideas into something real, we took part in an Alphabet-wide accessibility innovation challenge and built a prototype which went on to win the competition. We identified that many assistive buttons available on the market come with a 3.5mm jack, which is the kind many people have on their wired headphones. For our prototype, we created a box to connect those buttons and convert the signal coming from the button to a command sent to the Google Assistant.

Project DIVA diagram

To move from a prototype to reality, we started working with the team behind Google Assistant Connect, and today we are announcing DIVA at Google I/O 2019.


The real test, however, was giving this to Giovanni to try out. By touching the button with his hand, the signal is converted into a command sent to the Assistant. Now he can listen to music on the same devices and services our family and all his friends use,  and his smile tells the best story.


Getting this to work for Giovanni was just the start for Project DIVA. We started with single-purpose buttons, but this could be extended to more flexible and configurable scenarios. Now, we are investigating attaching RFID tags to objects and associating a command to each tag. That way, a person might have a cartoon puppet trigger a cartoon on the TV, or a physical CD trigger the music on their speaker.


Learn more about the idea behind the DIVA project at our publication site, and learn how to build your own device at our technical site.


Easier phone calls without voice or hearing

Last year, I read a social media post from a young woman in Israel. She shared a story about a guy she was in a relationship with, who was deaf, struggling to fix the internet connection at their home. The internet service provider’s tech support had no way to communicate with him via text, email or chat, even though they knew he was deaf. She wrote about how important it was for him to feel independent and be empowered.

This got me thinking: How can we help people make and receive phone calls without having to speak or hear? This led to the creation of our research project, Live Relay.

Live Relay uses on-device speech recognition and text-to-speech conversion to allow the phone to listen and speak on the users’ behalf while they type. By offering instant responses and predictive writing suggestions, Smart Reply and Smart Compose help make typing fast enough to hold a synchronous phone call.

Live Relay is running entirely on the device, keeping calls private. Because Live Relay is interacting with the other side via a regular phone call (no data required), the other side can even be a landline.

Of course, Live Relay would be helpful to anyone who can’t speak or hear during a call, and it may be particularly helpful to deaf and hard-of-hearing users, complementing existing solutions. In the U.S., for example, there are relay and real-time text (RTT) services available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. These offer advantages in some situations, and our goal isn’t to replace these systems. Rather, we mean to complement them with Live Relay as an additional option for the contexts where it can help most, like handling an incoming call or  when the user prefers a fully automated system for privacy consideration.

We’re even more excited for Live Relay in the long term because we believe it can help all of our users. How many times have you gotten an important call but been unable to step out and chat? With Live Relay, you would be able to take that call anywhere, anytime with the option to type instead of talk. We are also exploring the integration of real-time translation capability, so that you could potentially call anyone in the world and communicate regardless of language barriers. This is the power of designing for accessibility first.

Live Relay is still in the research phase, but we look forward to the day it can give our users more and better ways to communicate—especially those who may be underserved by the options available today.

Follow @googleaccess for continued updates, and contact the Disability Support team (g.co/disabilitysupport) with any feedback.

Source: Android


Why you should thank a teacher this week, and always

Editor’s note: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We’re honored to have the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, as today’s guest author (and Doodler), who shares more about his journey and all the ways we’re celebrating teachers this week and beyond.

I went into teaching to honor my first teacher: my mother, Sylvia Robinson. Growing up in rural Virginia, she dreamed of becoming  an educator but was denied the chance due to poverty and segregation; instead, she ran an in-home daycare center for all the neighborhood children, where she made each of us feel like we were the most important person on earth.

My mother always said, “every child deserves the proper amount of love to get what they need to be successful in life.” My sister, who had cerebral palsy, often needed more of my mother’s love and care than me and my other siblings did. Through her parenting, I learned what it meant to create a culture of equity—where every person gets the right amount of support they need to be successful—which has proven critical in my own teaching journey. 

Today I teach social studies in a juvenile detention facility in Virginia, where I work to create a positive school culture and empower my students to become civically-minded social advocates. When I was selected as Virginia’s Teacher of the Year, and then National Teacher of the Year, I was elated—mostly for my students. Their stories don’t often fit into the typical educational story in America, but they represent the power and possibility of second chances. They deserve a great education to take advantage of that second chance, and I’m eager to advocate for what they—along with other students from underprivileged backgrounds—need to be successful. That’s also why I’m so happy that Google is showing up this Teacher Appreciation Week, including a new $5 million grant to DonorsChoose.org, to make it easier for us to build classrooms that reflect the diversity of our students.

Google Doodle for Teacher Appreciation Week

Today’s Doodle was co-designed by the 57 2019 Teachers of the Year, representing each U.S. state, extra-state territories, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Google’s homepage today is a tribute to teachers, and I feel proud to see the contribution I made—alongside my 56 fellow State Teachers of the Year—up there for everyone to see. Since Google is a sponsor of The Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year program, we had the opportunity to spend a few days at Google’s Bay Area headquarters where I learned a lot about technology and using storytelling, advocacy and leadership in my practice. I am glad to see companies like Google have teachers’ backs.

The Teachers of the Year gather in San Francisco

While at Google, I got to engage in meaningful discussions with my fellow 2019 Teachers of the Year about how together we can advocate for solutions to some of the biggest issues in education.


A $5 million investment to bring teachers’ ideas to life

Today Google is making one of its largest teacher-focused grants to date, through a $5 million Google.org grant that will unlock over $10 million for teachers through DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that helps teachers get funding for classroom resources and projects. For every dollar you donate to a teacher’s classroom on DonorsChoose.org today, Google will put in an extra fifty cents to help teachers get funding, from 8:00 AM EST on Monday, May 6 until 3:00 AM EST on Tuesday, May 7, up to $1.5 million total.

Later this month, the remaining $3.5 million of this grant will also go toward supporting underrepresented teachers and those looking to create more inclusive classrooms. Representation means so much to my students, which is why it’s so important to have teachers  who value their cultures and look like them .

Free resources and trainings for educators, by educators

Google is also launching free online and in-person resources and trainings. In the Teacher Center, you’ll find a new section with teacher guides and lesson plans—created for teachers, by teachers—made to help create classrooms that best reflect our students. And throughout the week, you can attend free in-person trainings for educators in the new Google Learning Center in New York City, led by teachers like me(!) and 2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples, as well as teacher-focused organizations like TED-Ed. I’ll also be doing an Education On Air session later this week, so you can even tune in virtually.

Making it easier for teachers to learn from one another

As teachers, we often learn from each other. That’s why all of the 2019 State Teachers of the Year have recorded words of insight and encouragement to share with our fellow educators as part of CCSSO and Google’s “Lessons from Teachers of the Year” YouTube series.

As part of our work with Google, we also received early access toTED Masterclass, a new TED-Ed professional learning program they sponsored that supports educators in sharing their ideas in the form of TED-style talks. You can now check out several of my fellow educators’ TED Talks on the newly launchedTED-Ed Educator Talks YouTube Channel. More than 5,000 educators, including Google Certified Innovative Educators, are busy developing their Talks.

I hope you’ll join us in celebrating teachers everywhere who go the extra mile to help every student succeed. You can start exploring classroom projects eligible for today’s match on DonorsChoose.org, and of course, remember to #thankateacher—because we deserve it.