Tag Archives: google.org

You can pick the winner of the Google.org Impact Challenge Illinois

Last month, eight high school students in Columbia, South Carolina started apprenticeships at local businesses through a program to support homegrown talent in the area. In Cleveland, 25 high schoolers are hard at work on their internships at a local manufacturer, on a track to have a permanent job by the spring. And in Pittsburgh, hundreds of women participated in pay-what-you-can workshops, ranging from DIY synthesizer making to custom vinyl cutting.

Since our start last year, the Google.org Impact Challenge has awarded $1 million to 16 nonprofits in four cities: Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, Columbia, S.C., and Cleveland, all cities we visit on our Grow with Google tour across the U.S. Selected by a panel of local advisors, each organization came up with a new way to create economic opportunities for the communities they serve. At Google, when we see something that’s working, we find a way to make it even better.

For our next Google.org Impact Challenge in the U.S., we decided to cast a wider net and support organizations whose reach will extend beyond one metropolitan area. To support Grow with Google’s initiative to create economic opportunities for all Americans, we launched a new statewide Impact Challenge, giving Google.org the ability to support an even more diverse group of organizations. Last September, we convened our first statewide Impact Challenge in Illinois, and 167 nonprofits from all corners of the Prairie State applied with their boldest ideas to make positive change.

Today, we are pleased to announce the winners, each of whom will receive $75,000 in grant funding and Google training to make their ideas a reality. One of these winners will receive an extra $250,000, and it’s up to you to pick who wins. You can select your favorite on our site today; voting ends on February 14.

Grow With Google Illinois
  • After School Matters:Supporting a program to guide disconnected Chicago youth onto individualized college and career pathways.

  • Cara Chicago:Helping people affected by poverty and the challenges that come with it get quality jobs.

  • Future Founders Foundation: Empowering young adults to start their own businesses through a free accelerator.

  • Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois:Increasing on-site accessibility to STEM education for girls in over 40 rural Illinois counties.

  • Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs: Creating community-owned grocery stores in small towns to increase access to fresh produce and meats from local farmers.

  • Manufacturing Renaissance: Offering paid work experiences, training for industry credentials, career and college coaching to underserved youth for careers in manufacturing.

  • North Lawndale Employment Network: Providing transitional jobs for men and women returning from incarceration.

  • Mattoon in Motion:Supporting a sustainable, collaborative space for entrepreneurs to receive training, mentoring, and coaching.

  • True Star Foundation Inc.: Helping small businesses and nonprofits create social media content, blog posts, videos, and more through a youth-led digital marketing agency.

  • YWCA of McLean County:Building employment skills for formerly incarcerated women.

Thanks to our panel of local advisors for selecting such a great group of finalists. Now it’s time for you to weigh in. Vote through our website to select which of the 10 winners will receive the People’s Choice Award and and additional $250,000. Public voting will end in one week, on February 14, and the winner will be announced on February 15.

Expanding knowledge access with the Wikimedia Foundation

For 18 years, Wikipedia has been the internet’s encyclopedia, contributing to the vast knowledge available on the open web, and the Wikimedia Foundation has long shared in our mission of making information accessible to people around the world.

Our organizations have partnered throughout the years on initiatives that further our joint goals around knowledge access, including making information available through Google Search. Many individual Googlers also show their support for Wikimedia, through donations and from active participation in the community. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with new initiatives and commitments to achieving our shared goals.

As the next billion people come online, it’s critical that the content on the web reflect the diversity of its users. Currently, the web is lacking content in many local languages and thus restricts the information that people can access. By collaborating on programs to increase the availability of local language content and providing technology tools for Wikipedia editors, we aim to bridge this gap and empower local editors to serve their communities with relevant content in their native languages.

Creating new articles from scratch can be time and resource intensive for volunteer editors, and translation tools can be useful to help generate local language content. To make it easier for editors to create this native language content, we’re providing access to the Google Translate API through Wikipedia’s content translation tool at no cost. We’re also working with Wikimedia and their editor community to expand our Project Tiger initiative (now collectively referred to as GLOW - Growing Local Language Content on Wikipedia), which we piloted last year as a competition between 12 language communities in India to create more native language content. We will expand these programs with Wikimedia affiliates and volunteers to provide editors with resources and insights to drive the creation of new Wikipedia articles across 10 languages in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and the Middle East and North Africa region.

Bringing local language information online comes with new challenges in maintaining Wikipedia’s content and citation standards. Google Cloud Custom Search API helps editors ensure contributions are appropriately cited from sources. Our Cloud Vision API enables editors to digitize public domain books in Indic languages to include more diverse, reputable sources for citations. Both of these tools will be provided to Wikimedia at no cost.

While efforts to empower editors will help them continue to add more information and knowledge to the web, we also aim to support the long-term health of the Wikimedia projects so they are  available for generations to come. To that end, Google.org is donating $2 million to the Wikimedia Endowment, the first of Google’s contributions to its fund for long term sustainability. This brings our total support to more than $7.5 million, which includes an additional $1.1 million to the Wikimedia Foundation annual fund during a special campaign last year where Google employees helped decide where to direct Google's donation dollars.

With this continued partnership, we look forward to the strides we can make in bringing more of the world’s information online and making knowledge accessible to all.

How an IT support certificate transforms careers

A man who never finished college from Nebraska, a U.S. Army medical specialist from Kentucky and a mother of five from California. They’re three different people who have something pretty special in common: they were able to jump start their careers with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. It’s a first-of-its-kind online program from Grow with Google, that gives you the skills to launch a career in IT support and connects you with potential employers. With an estimated 150,000 open roles, IT support is one of the fastest-growing fields in America. In its first year, thousands of learners from across the country have already completed the program—many of whom have transformed their lives and careers. Here are a few of their stories.

Daniel: Night security guard who found daylight with an IT Support role

Grand Island, Nebraska

When his fiance got her first teaching job, Daniel Anderson left college and moved to Grand Island, Nebraska to be with her. Without a college degree, he struggled to find a job. Eventually, Central Community College hired him as a night security officer, but it was far from the career in technology he had once envisioned. Knowing his passion for computers, a friend encouraged him to check out the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. While working nights, he enrolled and got his certificate in five months. Soon after that, Daniel got an email about an IT job at Central Community College. His Google credentials stood out against other candidates and he got the role as an IT Support Specialist. Now married, Daniel is working in a job he loves, and that lets him spend more time with his new wife.

Yvonne: Put five kids through college, then found a career of her own

Vallejo, CA


Yvonne, from Vallejo, CA, has never been one to shy away from a challenge. She’s been through 23 surgeries and a permanent tracheostomy, home-schooled two sons with learning disabilities, and put five children through college. But after her kids all graduated, she faced another challenge: what to do next.  She had always valued the importance of technology, so that seemed like a good place to start. On a recommendation from one of her sons, Yvonne enrolled in the IT Support Professional Certificate program, and quickly completed it. With the certificate in hand and a newfound confidence, she landed a product engineering job with a driverless car company. The company was especially impressed with her skills in debugging, networking, and monitoring operating systems through remote virtualization tests—all skills she learned with the certificate. Once again Yvonne has risen to the challenge, but we’re sure that’s not a surprise to anyone.

Andrew: U.S. Army vet with a new mission

Paducah, KY

Andrew-WA-Thompson-407 (1).jpg

Andrew spent eight years in the Army as a medical specialist, but around the barracks he was better known as the unofficial IT guy. So when logistics and costs dimmed his plans for a post-military medical career, Andrew began to think about IT. While searching for options that could give him credentials, Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate caught his eye. The flexibility of being able to do the courses in his free time was very appealing, and he enrolled. The certificate built on his basic networking knowledge, but also challenged him with his first exposure to Linux. In six months he completed the certificate and soon had a job as a Level 1 Technician at an IT consultancy in Paducah. Andrew is thrilled to now be the official IT guy.

Since its launch in January of 2018, people from all different places and backgrounds have completed the IT certificate, including learners at more than 10 nonprofit community organizations and 25 community colleges. If you are interested in exploring an IT career too, learn more at The Google IT Support Professional Certificate page on Coursera.

Google AI Impact Challenge: a week to apply, plus research on why you should

In my twelve years at Google, I've seen that big things happen when you don't shy away from big ideas—especially when you pair those ideas with emerging technology. We're trying to encourage more of that kind of thinking with the Google AI Impact Challenge, a call for organizations to use AI to help address social, humanitarian and environmental problems. Before you read on, remember this: there are only seven days left to apply to the Challenge!

Hundreds of nonprofits and research organizations have already applied, and there’s good reason for all the excitement. Recently, we collaborated with McKinsey on research to identify ways AI can drive social change. The resulting report shows that AI projects have the potential to improve all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: end poverty and hunger, promote good health and wellbeing for all, and several more.

What works?

According to the research, AI has the greatest potential for impact in four areas: health and hunger, education, justice, equality and inclusion. AI can have the largest and most immediate impact through the application of computer vision, giving machines the ability to understand images and videos, and natural language processing, teaching computers to parse and understand human languages.

Computer vision can be used to improve health through better disease detection, our environment through wildlife tracking, and our education through new forms of learning for people with different learning capabilities. You’ve seen natural language processing at work in chatbots, which make the job-seeking process more efficient, or allow for better interaction between people seeking medical help and health providers.

What’s the hold up?

While AI cannot solve every problem, its potential is profound. So why isn’t every nonprofit and social entrepreneur embracing it? Three of the greatest challenges are access to talent, access to relevant data, and the capacity to deploy and sustain an AI project once it’s created. Nonprofits and their funders, the private sector and governments will need to work together to address these challenges.

To solve for talent scarcity, we need to continue to push for more education globally—especially for professionals willing to pursue AI. Private and public sector organizations may be able to open access to subsets of their data that could serve the clear public interest. Tools like Dataset Search are making it easier to discover potentially relevant datasets. Also, Nonprofits should look for opportunities to collect and share data most relevant to the problems they are looking to address. Finally, funders should consider how they can best support the ongoing deployment of AI projects and ensure social sector professionals have access to basic AI training.

McKinsey’s findings also show that to be successful, AI tools and techniques must be applied responsibly: clear principles must be established so that the solutions consider potential negative impacts—like the perpetuation of bias—on disadvantaged populations.

So, back to what I told you to remember: applications for the AI Impact Challenge close in seven days, on January 22 (@ 11:59:59 PST, to be exact). I’ll be part of an international panel of expert reviewers that will review all finalists and ultimately decide which ones will receive funds from our $25 million pool as well as other resources. We're excited to see what you come up with.

Introducing the Google.org Fellowship

Samantha Ainsley usually spends her days as a software engineer and technical lead for Google Cloud Platform, but for six months last year, she applied her skills to a different cause: stopping human trafficking. Samantha, along with four other Googlers, were part of a pilot that allowed them to step away from their jobs and dedicate their time to helping Thorn, a Google.org grantee that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. The goal of the pilot was to test what happens when we combine Google.org funding with full-time support from Googlers with experience in AI, machine learning and other technical skills. The Fellows and Thorn built tools to find patterns in data that law enforcement can use to identify and find child victims faster.

The success of the pilot led to the creation of the Google.org Fellowship. Now, Google employees can apply to do full-time pro bono work for up to six months with grantees working in areas like education, criminal justice, or economic opportunity. They’ll use their skills in engineering, product management, and user experience design to help Google.org grantees solve some of their toughest technical challenges. In 2019, we expect the Fellows will spend 50,000 hours with some of our top nonprofit grantees.

Our next Fellowship starts today with Goodwill Industries International, the nation’s leader in job placement, expert in workforce training and development, and recipient of a $10 million Google.org grant in 2017. A team of seven Google.org Fellows, including software engineers and data scientists, will work in community-based Goodwill organizations across the United States—in cities like Austin, Kalamazoo and Louisville—to help Goodwill increase the impact of its vocational programs. When finished, these Goodwill organizations will have better insight into what works best in their job training programs to improve services for job seekers.

This program brings our people alongside our philanthropy to help nonprofits around the world achieve their missions. And the pilot showed us how much Googlers benefitted, too: they came back to Google with sharpened skills and a renewed outlook on their work. In Samantha’s words, ”As I'd hoped, my Fellowship opened my eyes and humbled me. What I didn't anticipate, however, is that I would come back to Google a stronger and more dedicated engineer. My work with Thorn reminded me that our mission as engineers is not to simply build the newest and fastest technologies: our mission is to seek solutions to pressing problems no matter how daunting."

As the year unfolds, and dozens of Google.org Fellows complete their projects, we look forward to seeing what this idea—and 50,000 Googler hours—can accomplish.

A year of lessons learned from Google.org

At Google.org, we’re fortunate to work with some of the world’s best social innovators. In 2018, we donated over $240 million to nonprofits around the globe, and Googlers gave more than $56 million of their own money and 227,000 hours of volunteer time to great causes. As we start the new year, here are the most important lessons we learned from our work.

1. Ask bigger questions, and test the answers.

To identify and fund innovative ideas, we ask “how might we” questions. For instance, along withGiveDirectly and USAID, we asked, “How do outcomes compare when we give people cash versus traditional (in-kind) aid?” We funded a first of its kind project testing the impact of cash transfers and a nutrition-focused (non-cash) intervention. While neither the traditional intervention nor a cost-equivalent cash transfer shifted nutrition metrics, a larger sized cash transfer did, and also impacted a number of economic indicators. We hope this study provokes greater discussion about the potential role of cash.

We’ve supported with many other organizations and think tanks which are asking tough questions that can impact how we address pressing issues, like the future of work. We funded research analyzing how demographic change is driving automation, and how an economy with an aging population can sustain growth. With The Workers Lab, NDWA and The New School, we’re looking at studies to test new ways to help today’s workers, such as benefits which aren’t tied to a specific employer, a tax benefit to helpcaregivers become more financially secure and pooling resources to help gig workers.

2. Googlers have huge potential to amplify community work.

In 2018 we connected Google engineers with dozens of local nonprofits, particularly in communities where they live and work. Each time Googlers and our grantees come together, we can test the impact of introducing people with certain technical skills to people who have expertise in issues that impact communities, like disaster response. As a result, we can deploy smarter solutions faster.

Several devastating fires hit very close to our California home in November. Google.org sent 18 Google volunteers to support with Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) to repair wifi connections and capture aerial and street-level imagery to help evaluate the damage. In 2018, more than 20 Google employees, working alongside The Last Mile, prepared incarcerated individuals for successful re-entry into the workforce, specifically helping the organization expand its coding curriculum to juvenile facilities. And in London, Googlers inspired students from Color in Tech to get excited about technology and computer science through hands-on AR/VR and robotics exhibits.

Google.org year-end roundup

3. Global tech solutions require global participation.

One of my favorite parts of my job is to meet social innovators from around the world. Each time I do, I am reminded that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the myriad of problems we are addressing globally, both within Google.org and as a community. I’m particularly proud of the work our team has done through our Google.org Impact Challenge program, which asks local and regional nonprofits how they would make their community—and beyond—an even better place.

Google.org year-end roundup

Google.org President Jacquelline Fuller stands with fellow judges from Google.org Impact Challenge Australia.

In 2018, we held nine Impact Challenges, our most ever in one year. Local leaders and experts identified 164 winning ideas from around the world, from Australia to Kenya to Cleveland. We provided seed funding for exciting new ideas, like monitoring ocean ecosystems using drones, AI and a sea mammal, applying Big Data to help small farmers allocate water and fertilizer and advancing manufacturing careers for inner-city youth. These ideas demonstrate how technology isn’t just something that can come out of Silicon Valley. It’s something for all of us to build together.

4. We have even bigger goals for 2019.

Our latest and most ambitious ever challenge, Google’s AI Impact Challenge, is how we plan to hit the ground running in 2019. We are inviting nonprofits, social enterprises and researchers with big ideas on how AI can help them further their mission to apply by January 22. Winners will receive funds from a grant $25 million grant pool, plus coaching, so they can test and implement their ideas.

Stay tuned: We’ll announce the recipients at Google I/O 2019.

Defying stereotypes: Jason’s journey learning how to code

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Jason Jones, a recent graduate of The Last Mile, a program that prepares incarcerated individuals for successful re-entry to the job market through business and technology training. Today, Google.org announced a $2 million grant to The Last Mile, which will allow the program to expand to prisons across the United States, and to establish its first program in an Indiana juvenile facility, Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility. Now that more people will be able to benefit from this program, Jason wrote a letter to future students to help prepare them for their journey.

Dear students,

My name is Jason Jones and I am a software engineer; however, that wasn’t always the case. For the majority of my life, I was whatever stereotype that public opinion thought would fit: at-risk, system impacted, low-income; the list goes on. I’m 35 years old and recently released from prison after 13 years.

I come from a broken home, where gangs became family and the streets became my household. In 2014, while incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, I entered The Last Mile program with no understanding of the opportunity it presented. It gave me a home and my new family. No one could have told me that this one decision would turn my life around.

Before The Last Mile, I had no idea what coding was or how technology worked. I had no real plans of rehabilitation or changing my mind set. Through coding, I was able to redefine how people perceived me. I became part of another underrepresented group: a person of color in tech with a non-traditional background.

Through the program, I found classmates, instructors and volunteers who were genuinely invested in my education and in me as a person. We spent thirty-two hours each week learning skills like JavaScript, web development, team collaboration and how to navigate the workplace. I discovered mentors and positive role models who I could go to with problems or for advice.

Since graduating from the Last Mile, I signed a contract with a tech company that was interested in my success, and I relocated to a better place for growth and prosperity. And just two months out of prison, I’m able to travel on a plane for the first time in my life, visit parts of the country I’ve never been, and do things that I thought were out of my reach.

This process has been anything but easy. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment, discipline, focus and sacrifice.

I’ve faced a lot of adversity in my life, but coding gave me a different approach to solving problems. It taught me how to break down the larger problems into smaller, workable ones and create a workflow that leads to a solution. I’ve learned better communication skills and how to collaborate successfully on a team. I’ve learned how to break down some barriers that were stunting my growth and learned how to ask for and accept help. But most of all, I’ve learned how to take control of my life and set the direction in which it is going.

All of you have the opportunity to reimagine what you want your life to look like—always be your best self and believe in the process. This keeps me on a positive path.

Yours truly,

Jason Jones

California fires: how we’re providing aid and ways you can help

Over the last week, three wildfires have devastated communities in California, and there's been a tremendous effort—on the part of firefighters, first responders, local officials and NGOs—to contain the flames and help thousands of displaced families. Since the start of the fires, we've deployed resources to help those affected in our own backyard. Here's a bit more on that, and how you can help.

Improving access to information

When the fires broke out, Google’s Crisis Response team activated SOS Alerts , allowing people impacted by the disaster to access local emergency information, news and maps of the affected areas. With networks down, it soon it became evident that getting online was a top concern.

In collaboration with the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), Google volunteers have been on the ground helping communities get back online, allowing many to reconnect with families and friends, file insurance claims, and—when possible—get back to school or work. They set up WiFi and connected Chromebooks at shelters, distribution centers, churches and clinics, serving over 1,000 evacuees. In just a couple of days, these connections allowed over a dozen shelter guests to be matched to missing persons list entries.

ITDRC and our volunteers are also working in Southern California to capture aerial and street-level imagery of the impacted areas. These images will be used to augment existing digital maps allowing emergency managers to evaluate the impact of the fires.

Beyond information, there are many critical needs to be met during a crisis of this proportion, including food and shelter. Google.org and Googlers have donated over $1.5 million to support those impacted by the fires. This includes a $500,000 direct grant from Google.org to efforts like the NorCal Disaster Relief Fund and the Southern California Disaster Relief Fund.

By leveraging existing partnerships with merchants and carriers, the Google Shopping team has also made a $100,000 in-kind donation of food and basic essentials to local food banks through Feeding America.

Everyone can help

SOS Alerts is a gateway for people to make donations, 100% of which goes to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, and will be directed to highly impactful organizations spearheading recovery efforts. To date, over 3,500 people have given money to support the victims of the fires through Google, making donations from five dollars, to as much as $500.

Today, we want to invite others to donate as well, to the victims of the Camp Fire or to the victims of the Southern California fires. Anyone can also make donations directly to organizations like the American Red Cross, which is working shelter to those displaced, the Wildfire Relief Fund, which is supporting long-term recovery and preparedness, or the Latino Community Foundation as they support groups providing aid to families and farmworker communities in the affected areas.

California is our home. It’s where we were founded and where over a third of all Google employees live. There is much more to be done and we’ll stay engaged in support of recovery efforts throughout the state during the days and months ahead.

Celebrating 15 years of Google Ireland

Can you remember what you were doing in 2003? It was a special time of questionable fashion, Nokia game obsession (Snake 2, anyone?) and The Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love?” on repeat. “Finding Nemo” was popular on the silver screen, the Concorde took its final flight and Britney Spears became the youngest singer to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Over in Ireland, we were trying to create something special of our own. We opened our first office in Dublin with just five employees, later moving to the perfect home on Barrow Street in the heart of Docklands (which would later be known colloquially as “Silicon Docks”). We knew we were on the edge of something exciting in those early days, but didn’t know how it would grow.

We committed to keeping it scrappy, always bringing the “craic” (Irish for “fun”) to work and doing our best to connect with the people of Dublin. Over the years, they’ve given us so much—from working together to get computer science on the education curriculum, engaging startups, connecting something as Irish as agriculture with tech, and letting us be part of community-driven initiatives such as Dublin Pride and the South Docks Festival.

Ireland is the second largest Google site in Europe with the biggest Engineering workforce outside of Zurich and Mountain View. We have over 8,000 people from 70 countries, speaking more than 75 languages and serving more than 2 million customers. It’s a melting pot of cultures coming together to make a difference, far beyond our Irish shores. For many, it’s their first job away from home and they consistently say the thing that keeps them here is the people. It's the people who make this city unique—and the perfect home for Google.

We want to use our 15th birthday celebrations to give something back to Ireland. Today, we’re announcing the launch of a €1M Google.org Impact Challenge: an open call for local nonprofit and social enterprise innovators to tell us how they would make their community—and beyond—an even better place.

We’ve invested more than €1 billion in Ireland since 2003 and we’ll continue to contribute to Dublin as we grow our business and the economy. We’ll remain good neighbors; supporting local businesses, providing jobs and using technology to solve some of the biggest problems facing society.

We’ve been proud to call Dublin our home for 15 years, but for all that, we’re just getting started.

Supporting a new contract #ForTheWeb

Next year, the world will reach an important milestone: the 50/50 moment, when half of the world’s population will be online. Thirty years after Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, it makes a huge difference in people’s lives—whether it’s the chance to access a world of information, to improve their education, develop new skills, or build new businesses.

For all the billions of people that are already online, there are billions more who aren’t benefiting from the economic potential of the world wide web, or its wider promise—the ability to exercise fundamental human rights such as access to information and free expression.

At Google, we’re working to expand both access and opportunity to people around the world. In India, for example, every month, more than 8 million people use Google’s public Wi-Fi program, Google Station, to get online and access job training material or educational resources. And around the world we’re working with Learning Equality to help them close the education gap caused by limitations in access to the internet.  

Alongside this progress, advancements made in technology and the vast scale of the web present challenges, too—whether combating illegal content, preventing misuse of personal information, or ensuring that the benefits of the technology are widely shared. These challenges require thoughtful solutions, and for many years we’ve worked with governments, civil society groups, academics and our users to find the right way forward—toward a web that builds on the best in humanity and challenges the worst.

As we approach the 50/50 moment, we support the World Wide Web Foundation’s call to create a new Contract for the Web. Over the coming months, we’ll work with the World Wide Web Foundation and many other partners from government and business, as well as web users around the world, to draw up principles that protect the open web as a public good and a basic right for everyone. We’re also backing up that commitment with a one million dollar Google.org grant to the World Wide Web Foundation so that it can continue to drive forward its important work #ForTheWeb.