Tag Archives: Nonprofits

A Matter of Impact: June updates from Google.org

This week we wrapped up Pride Month, and while events looked a little different than usual, I was happy to still take part in virtual celebrations at Google and in my community. For me, Pride represents a time to celebrate progress, and also reflect on how much work is left to be done. 

Like it has for so many marginalized groups, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a distinct impact on LGBTQ+ people. Research from The Trevor Project and BeLonG To,  both Google.org grantees, shows that LGBTQ+ youth are experiencing more isolation, anxiety and loneliness than their straight and cisgender peers. A March 2021 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation adds that LGBTQ+ adults have lost jobs and experienced mental health impacts at higher rates. And OutRight Action International found that these communities have been excluded from humanitarian interventions because of narrow definitions of family, binary gender classifications, biased staff and more.

That’s why, for Pride this year, our support was focused on inclusive recovery from COVID-19. In this month’s digest, we highlight these efforts that range from a new fund to help LGBTQ+ people in over 60 countries access basic resources to ongoing support for the Trevor Project’s use of AI to help with crisis intervention. 

Of course, work for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion doesn’t start and end with Pride month, and we will continue to support those who advocate for LGBTQ+ rights year round and across the world.


In case you missed it 

As part of our cross-company celebration of Pride Month, Google.org granted $2 million to OutRight Action International’s “Covid-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund,” to help provide resources like food, shelter and job training to those in need. To further support advocacy for LGBTQ+ human rights globally and share critical community resources, we also provided $1 million each in Ad Grants to OutRight Action and the Transgender Law Center and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

Hear from one of our grantees: Marsha P. Johnson Institute 

Elle Moxley is the founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Elle Moxley is the founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.

Elle Moxley is the founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI), an organization inspired by the famous activist, self-identified drag queen, performer and survivor. MPJI protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people by organizing, advocating and creating an intentional community to heal, develop transformative leadership and promote their collective power.

“Last year, we created a Marsha P. Johnson Institute COVID-19 Relief Fund that received strong support from Google.org in the form of a $500,000 grant. The funding helped us provide one-time direct relief payments of $500 to BLACK transgender or non-binary identified people, furthering The Institute’s mission to support those most beyond the margins. Thousands of BLACK LGBTQ+ people from across the U.S. applied for the grant program and recipients spanned 40 U.S. states and also included Columbia, Puerto Rico and Mali.We’re so proud to be able to offer our own stimulus check, if you will, to BLACK transgender people from around the country. By the end of last year, we were able to donate over $250,000 to more than 500 individuals.”

A few words with a Google.org Fellow: The Trevor Project

Riley Wong is a machine learning engineer at Google. They recently completed their Google.org Fellowship with The Trevor Project.

Riley Wong is a machine learning engineer at Google. They recently completed their Google.org Fellowship with The Trevor Project.

"As a mental health advocate and community organizer for queer and trans people of color, working with The Trevor Project was an excellent opportunity to apply my background in machine learning, natural language processing, and language generation to benefit a community I care deeply about. Many queer and trans youth, especially those who are Black and/or trans-feminine, face unique challenges with accessing mental healthcare and support. Especially in the face of COVID-19, a lack of safe and stable home environments can exacerbate the need for crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for our communities. Collaborating with The Trevor Project and other Google.org Fellows was an extremely rewarding experience." 


Read more about the project in this article from MIT Technology Review.

How I grew as a computer science educator

Editor's note: Shaina Glass is a computer science educator based in Houston. She shares how Google.org funding helped support an organization that has shaped her career. 

In 2018, I was one of only a handful of educators teaching computer science (CS) to students and teachers alike in my school district. I created after-school clubs, provided professional development workshops, and looked for ways to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. I was always looking for other like-minded educators who I could learn and grow with. Everyone I spoke with pointed me to the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), an organization focused on supporting computer science educators who are often the only ones in their schools and districts. 

Joining the local CSTA Chapter in Greater Houston has allowed me to share ideas and create a community with other CS educators. Local chapters like mine have always been a big part of CSTA's mission, especially in urban areas like Houston where only 49% of schools have a certified CS teacher. Local CSTA chapters have grown by more than 25% since 2019, thanks in part to Google’s support.  In 2019 Google.org committed a $1 million grant to CSTA, and today they’re investing $500,000 more to help grow membership and provide opportunities for equity-focused professional development. 

For me, CSTA has shaped my career in so many ways. Before the pandemic, I received a scholarship to attend my first CSTA conference in Phoenix, Arizona. There I learned how to build an equitable CS program in my school district and connected with a community that has sustained me while teaching throughout the pandemic. As a chapter leader, I’ve helped bring more CS educators together in Houston and created a plan to work with regional and state CS leaders to provide opportunities for more teachers to become certified CS teachers. 

CSTA teachers meet regularly, even virtually, to maintain community

CSTA teachers meet regularly, even virtually, to maintain community.

Most recently, I became a  CSTA Equity Fellow for the 2020-21 school year, joining 14 other educators to bring equity-based CS education practices into their schools and communities. One of our initiatives includes creating a podcast focused on equity in CS. As a part of my fellowship, I also serve on advisory boards for CS curricula and the development of a CSTA Coaching Toolkit that will help administrators and CS leaders evaluate and support teachers.  

If you’re a new or experienced CS or STEM educator looking for a network of education leaders that can provide support, resources, and professional growth, then consider becoming a member of CSTA. If you aren’t near a local CSTA Chapter, join to learn how to start one! Hope to see you at the upcoming virtual conference. We’re stronger together.  

A Matter of Impact: May updates from Google.org

While many countries appear to be rounding the corner on COVID-19, our global humanitarian crisis is far from over. India, Brazil, and other regions of Latin America are experiencing high levels of COVID-19 infections and deaths, propelled in part by inequities in vaccine distribution and healthcare infrastructure. In this month’s digest we share updates on our relief efforts in India and Latin America, as well as other projects happening around the world. 

Lately, friends and family have asked me how they can most effectively contribute to global COVID-19 relief. In the short run, all generosity is needed and quickly getting resources to those who are affected should be the top priority. That’s why we’ve made it easyto donate vaccines and critical supplies through vetted charities. But recovery is a long process, so at Google.org we think about crisis response in three phases: 

  1. Responding to the immediate need. In this case,  providing critical supplies — like rapid testing, protective equipment, and oxygen — to bend the COVID-19 curve. 
  2. Addressing the inevitable knock-on effects to family incomes that come from loss of life and work. Through our grantees, we’re directing support to cash assistance organizations, food relief, and other resources that help families stay afloat. 
  3. Supporting recovery and resilience. Crisis relief doesn’t stop when the headlines quiet down. When attention turns away, local organizations are often left struggling to rebuild and prepare for the next crisis. We’re focused on investing in technologies, like data monitoring about the disease spread, that will help organizations to react to this crisis and improve readiness for the next one. 

We’ve still got a ways to go, but the global outpouring of support makes me optimistic that recovery and renewal lies near ahead. 


In case you missed it 

On May 26, Google.org and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine announced the launch of the Health Equity Tracker (HET), a public facing data dashboard that displays and contextualizes health disparities facing communities of color throughout the U.S. Google.org also joined celebrations for Teacher’s Appreciation week. We continued our support for the DonorsChoose #ISeeMe campaign and matched donations up to $500,000 for projects created by teachers of color and projects from all teachers requesting culturally responsive and antiracist resources.

Hear from one of our grantees: DonorsChoose  

Kristina Joy Lyles, Head of Equity & Impact at DonorsChoose

Kristina Joy Lyles,  Head of Equity & Impact at DonorsChoose

Kristina “Steen” Joye Lyles is the Head of Equity & Impact at DonorsChoose, an organization committed to a future where students across the country, particularly students of color from low-income households, have access to the resources they need to learn.  

“This year, Teacher Appreciation Week sat at the crux of compounding crises: a heightened racial climate, the global COVID-19 pandemic, and exacerbated inequities in students’ access to continue learning amid school closures. Through teacher surveys, we learned that educators at schools in low-income communities or where a majority of students identify as Black, Latino or Indigenous were more likely to have been teaching fully remote all year, and that their students were having a  harder time finding reliable internet access. With continued support from Google.org, we rallied funding around educators on the front lines, including teachers of color, to fund their most immediate classroom needs — from classroom basics to identity-affirming resources such as books and art supplies. 

This Teacher Appreciation Week alone, Google.org’s support activated matching donations from the public to classroom projects for 1,500 teachers across 1,300 schools over the course of just three days, evidence of the necessary attention being given to address the equity gap during and beyond this pandemic.”

A few words with a Google.org Fellow: Gabriel Doss

Gabriel Doss, a Google.org Fellow with the City of Detroit

Gabriel Doss, a Google.org Fellow with the City of Detroit

Gabriel Doss is a software engineer at Google who is participating in a Google.org Fellowship with the City of Detroit.

"As a native Detroiter, the pursuit of making my hometown a world-class city for its citizens is a mission that has been a consistent north star for me. When I heard that the Google.org Fellowship would endeavor to make affordable housing more accessible for Detroiters who need it the most, I knew that the Fellowship was something I wanted to be a part of. The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that our cohort of Google.org Fellows are working to solve a problem for Detroit that has never been approached in this way before. We consider it to be a huge responsibility and have set our expectations accordingly. We aren’t just delivering on an OKR, we’re working to deliver a product solution that will have sustainable impact." 

Hear more about the project in Gabriel’s interview with Fox 2 Detroit.

A Matter of Impact: April updates from Google.org

Last week we celebrated Earth Day — the second one that’s taken place during the pandemic. It’s becoming clear that these two challenges aren’t mutually exclusive. We know, for example, that climate change impacts the same determinants of health that worsen the effects of COVID-19. And, as reports have noted, we can’t afford to relax when it comes to the uneven progress we’re making toward a greener future. 


At Google, we’re taking stock of where we’ve been and how we can continue building a more sustainable future. We’ve been deeply committed to sustainability ever since our founding two decades ago: we were the first major company to become carbon neutral and the first to match our electricity use with 100 percent renewable energy. 


While we lead with our own actions, we can only fully realize the potential of a green and sustainable world through strong partnerships with businesses, governments, and nonprofits. At Google.org, we’re particularly excited about the potential for technology-based solutions from nonprofits and social innovators. Time and again we hear from social entrepreneurs who have game-changing ideas but need a little boost to bring them to life. 


Through programs like our AI for Social Good Initiative and our most recent Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate, we are helping find, fund, and build these ideas. Already they’re having significant impact on critical issues from air quality to emissions analysis. In this month’s digest, you can read more about some of these ideas and the mark they’re making on the world. 


In case you missed it 

Earlier this month, Google sharedour latest series of commitments to support vaccine equity efforts across the globe. As part of this, Google.org is supporting Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, in their latest fundraising push with initial funding to help fully vaccinate 250,000 people in low and middle income countries, technical assistance to improve their vaccine delivery systems and accelerate global distribution and Ad Grants to amplify fundraising efforts. We’ve since kicked off an internal giving campaign to increase our impact, bringing the total vaccinations funded to 880,000 to date, which includes matching funds from Gavi. And in the U.S., we’ve provided $2.5 million in overall grants to Partners in Health, Stop the Spread and Team Rubicon who are working directly with 500 community-based organizations to boost vaccine confidence and increase access to vaccines in Black, Latino and rural communities.


Gavin McCormick, Executive Director of WattTime

Gavin McCormick, Executive Director of WattTime

Hear from one of our grantees: WattTime  

Gavin McCormick is the Executive Director of WattTime, a nonprofit that offers technology solutions that make it easy for anyone to achieve emissions reductions. WattTime is an AI Impact Challenge grantee and received both funding and a cohort of Google.org Fellows to help support their work, particularly a project that helps individuals and corporations understand how to use energy when it’s most sustainable and allows regulators to understand the state of global emissions. 


“Data insights powered by AI help drive innovative solutions — from streaming services’ content suggestions to navigation on maps. But they’re still not often applied to some of the biggest challenges of our time like the climate crisis. My organization harnesses AI to empower people and companies alike to choose cleaner energy and slash emissions. Like enabling smart devices such as thermostats and electric vehicles to use electricity when power is clean and avoid using electricity when it’s dirty. Now with support from Google.org, we’re working with members of Climate TRACE — a global coalition we co-founded in 2019 of nonprofits, tech companies and climate leaders — to apply satellite imagery and other remote sensing technology to estimate nearly all types of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in close to real time. We can’t solve the climate crisis if we don’t have an up-to-date understanding of where the emissions are coming from.” 

Alok Talekar, a Google.org Fellow with WattTime

Alok Talekar, a Google.org Fellow with WattTime

A few words with a Google.org Fellow: Alok Talekar

Alok Talekar is a software engineer at Google who participated in a Google.org Fellowship with WattTime. 


“I am a software engineer at Google and work on AI for social good with a focus on the agricultural sector in India. The Climate TRACE Google.org Fellowship with WattTime gave me the opportunity to change my career trajectory and work on climate crisis solutions full time. The mission that Gavin McCormick and team are pursuing is ambitious, and technology can help make it a reality. Over the course of the Fellowship, the team was able to use machine learning to process satellite imagery data of power plants around the world and determine when a particular plant was operational based on the imagery provided. I then helped the team to model and validate the bounds of accuracy of this approach in order to predict the cumulative annual emissions of a given power plant. I was proud to be able to contribute to the project in its early days and to be part of the core team that helped build this massive coalition for monitoring global emissions.”


More options for nonprofits with Google Workspace

Over 150,000 nonprofits use Google productivity tools every day to get more done for their communities. PlanetRead is an organization based in India that’s bringing literacy to millions by making reading a part of entertainment through Same Language Subtitling. They rely on Google Workspace — especially Gmail, Calendar, and Docs — to maximize their impact. Other mission-focused organizations use Google Workspace to better serve their communities, like Norway-based nonprofit ISFO Innherred Seniorforum. With the help of Google tools, they developed the SeniorSmart app to help seniors fight loneliness. To meet needs of organizations like these, we’re providing nonprofits with greater choice and flexibility.


Say hello to Google Workspace for Nonprofits 

G Suite for Nonprofits is now Google Workspace for Nonprofits. Like its predecessor, Google Workspace for Nonprofits helps teams collaborate more effectively. As was the case with G Suite, Google Workspace for Nonprofits is available at no cost and includes the productivity apps you know and love — Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet and many more. 


Get continued access to Google Classroom at no additional cost

With Google Workspace for Nonprofits, organizations focused on education will still have access to Google Classroom to create and manage classes, assignments and grades online. Virginia-based MySecureKid is an organization that equips disadvantaged children for life and job readiness. They rely on Classroom — and will continue to do so —  for their online courses that covering topics ranging from entrepreneurship and financial literacy to internet safety and self-esteem. 

Image of three women in front of a sign that says, "Connecting to the future".

MySecureKid provides positive role models and hosts training, workshops and activities to help people feel confident in themselves to achieve their dreams. 

Find a plan that meets your needs 

For nonprofits that need access to more advanced tools to drive their mission forward, we have new discounts with you in mind. These discounts are designed specifically for nonprofit organizations that want to access the Business Standard, Business Plus and Enterprise editions of Google Workspace. Compare features and discounts of each edition here, so you can pick what works for your organization. 

With over 375,000 organizations across more than 60 countries in the program, Google for Nonprofits is on a mission to equip nonprofits with the best of Google tools. For organizations looking to get started with Google Workspace, check out our video tutorial and help center. You can also learn more about new Google Workspace features on the Cloud Blog.

A Matter of Impact: March updates from Google.org

Despite decades of work to achieve gender equality, the disparities between men and women across education, income and economic opportunities persist. Not only that, but they are growing at an alarming rate due to COVID-19. Women have been almost 2x more likely to lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic, and girls are far less likely to return to schools once they reopen in person. 


There are solutions that can help, but they’re underfunded. Data shows that only 1.6% of philanthropic funding goes to causes that focus on women and girls. Which is exactly why we need to direct more money toward solutions that put women and girls at the center.


We launched theGoogle.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls earlier this month, which will provide $25 million in funding and Googler expertise to organizations that are creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls.


When women and girls have the resources and opportunities to turn their economic potential into power, it not only changes their lives, but also strengthens the well-being of entire communities. As we continue down the road to recovery and rebuild our global economy, we need bold ideas that will encourage, support and propel women forward—that’s what this Impact Challenge is all about. 

Collage of women and girls from around the word

Check out g.co/womenandgirlschallenge learn more about the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women & Girls. Organizations have until Friday, April 9 to submit ideas. Grant recipients will be announced later this year.

In this update, we highlight initiatives we’re supporting to empower women and girls around the world. We can’t afford to stand on the sidelines when it comes to addressing these disparities; we have a collective responsibility to take action now.


In case you missed it 

We recently announced a $300,000 grant to the Michal Sela Forum, an Israeli nonprofit using technology to put a stop to domestic violence against women. This funding will help establish a program called “Nothing about us without us,” which pairs survivors of abuse with technology experts to build products that promote safety and security, like apps that identify signals of abusive behavior or help victims document their experiences. 

Mariana Costa Checa, CEO of Laboratoria, a Google.org grantee.

Mariana Costa Checa, CEO of Laboratoria, a Google.org grantee.

Hear from one of our grantees: Laboratoria 

Mariana Costa Checa is the CEO of Laboratoria, an organization that helps women who haven't been able to start a professional career access quality jobs in Latin America's growing digital economy. Since its launch in 2014, Laboratoria has trained over 1,800 women and placed 79% of them in technology jobs in Latin America and abroad. Last year, Laboratoria received a $1 million Google.org grant to help more women start and grow careers in technology.  


“2020 was a year of transformation. A year where instead of hopelessly waiting for things to go back to normal, we decided to make the most out of the changes brought to our operations and community. We set a north star for ourselves to become the best remote bootcamp out there, and have worked tirelessly to accomplish this vision. We have seen the power of building true connections amongst women from the south of Chile to the north of Mexico, despite the thousands of kilometers between them. We have managed to sustain +80% placement rates despite the unprecedented levels of unemployment around us, seeing our graduates become an economic backbone for their families and communities. At Laboratoria we dream of a Latin America where women are no longer the hardest hit by every crisis due to the underlying inequalities that persist. We want economies where the benefits of thriving sectors, such as tech, are equally shared by women.” 


Ali Stanfield, a Google.org Fellow with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Ali Stanfield, a Google.org Fellow with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. 


A few words with a Google.org Fellow: Ali Stanfield

Ali Stanfield is a software engineer who recently completed a Google.org Fellowship with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.


“I come from a family of healthcare workers. Watching my loved ones fight COVID-19 on the frontlines early in the pandemic fueled my desire to find a way to put my skills to use. Working alongside National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), I learned about the severity of the economic crisis affecting domestic workers — over 2.5 million nannies, house cleaners, and care workers in the U.S.—many of whom had been laid off without notice. I was surprised and saddened to discover that technology was often a barrier to workers accessing desperately needed emergency relief funds. Our team of Fellows worked closely with NDWA and domestic workers to help NDWA build a platform that made it easy for people to receive direct cash assistance during this critical time of need. We were proud to help distribute over $30 million in funding to domestic workers across the U.S.”


How AI helps volunteers support LGBTQ youth in crisis

Over 1.8 million LGBTQ youth seriously consider suicide in the U.S. each year. At The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, the number of youth reaching out for support has ballooned since the start of the pandemic — at times nearly doubling our pre-COVID-19 volume. We knew we needed to train more volunteer crisis counselors to meet the growing demand for mental health support — and do so while working fully remote. The ability to connect the youth that we serve with highly trained counselors 24/7 is life-saving work, and will always hinge on human connection.


Over the last two years, Google.org has provided $2.7 million in funding and a team of nearly 30 Google.org Fellows to help scale The Trevor Project’s LGBTQ+ youth crisis support resources and technology using AI and machine learning. Most recently, Trevor and a team of Fellows built the Crisis Contact Simulator (CCS), a counselor training tool that uses AI to simulate conversations with LGBTQ youth in crisis. The simulator lets volunteer trainees practice realistic conversations with youth personas, equipping them with the skills needed to provide critical care. With this tool and other training innovations, we plan to grow our team of 700 digital volunteer crisis counselors by 10x! 


To become a volunteer crisis counselor, trainees learn about our counseling support model, active communication skills and LGBTQ identities, and take part in intensive one-on-one, human-led role play scenarios. We needed to build and test a tool that would provide a time-flexible, role-play opportunity for trainees outside of typical business hours — this was especially important since we know that nearly 70% of our digital crisis counselors volunteer on nights and weekends.  


To do so, we worked with the Google.org Fellows to bring together our knowledge and expertise in machine learning and natural language processing, product management, user experience, education, LGBTQ youth, and clinical psychology. "Through my work as a Google.org Fellow, I was able to adapt traditional user experience design practices and identify new ways for designers to collaborate with machine learning engineers. Being embedded with the Trevor project allowed us to be super collaborative with the training team as well, and gave us the opportunity to build lasting frameworks for their future AI work." said Abby Beck, a UX Design Lead at Google. 

Thanks to six months of rigorous research, feedback, evaluations and data collected from thousands of role-play transcripts between the training team and volunteers, the CCS can emulate a number of digital youth personas. This allows trainees to practice realistic conversations with a wide range of life situations, risk levels and intersectional identities that span race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. "Riley," the first digital youth persona, emulates a young person who’s struggling to come out as genderqueer. As more digital youth personas are introduced into the training program, Trevor counselors will become more adept at providing high-quality care and support to young people experiencing a variety of crises. 

Animated image of the Crisis Contact Simulator during a training session with a Trevor Project volunteer counselor.

A Trevor Project crisis counselor trainee interacts with “Riley,” one of the Crisis Contact Simulator personas who’s struggling to come out as genderqueer.

As we think about automating more training models, we wanted our training team to be able to evaluate the CCS tool. We created a human evaluation rubric that allows folks on our team to have a conversation with the CCS and rate if it’s being sensible, specific and authentic and if it’s achieving the intended learning objective. 

So far, an initial cohort of Trevor Project staff has been trained as crisis counselors using this tool, and we’ve started using it in our broader training curriculum. It’s easy to see why we’re excited to celebrate today’s launch of the Crisis Contact Simulator: the hard work was all in service of increasing the number of LGBTQ youth that we can help. It’s our goal that LGBTQ youth can always speak to a highly-trained crisis counselor — for free and 24/7 — and technology like AI can help us train even more volunteers to meet that goal. If you or someone you know needs help or support, contact The Trevor Project at TheTrevorProject.org/Help. 


How AI helps volunteers support LGBTQ youth in crisis

Over 1.8 million LGBTQ youth seriously consider suicide in the U.S. each year. At The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, the number of youth reaching out for support has ballooned since the start of the pandemic — at times nearly doubling our pre-COVID-19 volume. We knew we needed to train more volunteer crisis counselors to meet the growing demand for mental health support — and do so while working fully remote. The ability to connect the youth that we serve with highly trained counselors 24/7 is life-saving work, and will always hinge on human connection.


Over the last two years, Google.org has provided $2.7 million in funding and a team of nearly 30 Google.org Fellows to help scale The Trevor Project’s LGBTQ+ youth crisis support resources and technology using AI and machine learning. Most recently, Trevor and a team of Fellows built the Crisis Contact Simulator (CCS), a counselor training tool that uses AI to simulate conversations with LGBTQ youth in crisis. The simulator lets volunteer trainees practice realistic conversations with youth personas, equipping them with the skills needed to provide critical care. With this tool and other training innovations, we plan to grow our team of 700 digital volunteer crisis counselors by 10x! 


To become a volunteer crisis counselor, trainees learn about our counseling support model, active communication skills and LGBTQ identities, and take part in intensive one-on-one, human-led role play scenarios. We needed to build and test a tool that would provide a time-flexible, role-play opportunity for trainees outside of typical business hours — this was especially important since we know that nearly 70% of our digital crisis counselors volunteer on nights and weekends.  


To do so, we worked with the Google.org Fellows to bring together our knowledge and expertise in machine learning and natural language processing, product management, user experience, education, LGBTQ youth, and clinical psychology. "Through my work as a Google.org Fellow, I was able to adapt traditional user experience design practices and identify new ways for designers to collaborate with machine learning engineers. Being embedded with the Trevor project allowed us to be super collaborative with the training team as well, and gave us the opportunity to build lasting frameworks for their future AI work." said Abby Beck, a UX Design Lead at Google. 

Thanks to six months of rigorous research, feedback, evaluations and data collected from thousands of role-play transcripts between the training team and volunteers, the CCS can emulate a number of digital youth personas. This allows trainees to practice realistic conversations with a wide range of life situations, risk levels and intersectional identities that span race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. "Riley," the first digital youth persona, emulates a young person who’s struggling to come out as genderqueer. As more digital youth personas are introduced into the training program, Trevor counselors will become more adept at providing high-quality care and support to young people experiencing a variety of crises. 

Animated image of the Crisis Contact Simulator during a training session with a Trevor Project volunteer counselor.

A Trevor Project crisis counselor trainee interacts with “Riley,” one of the Crisis Contact Simulator personas who’s struggling to come out as genderqueer.

As we think about automating more training models, we wanted our training team to be able to evaluate the CCS tool. We created a human evaluation rubric that allows folks on our team to have a conversation with the CCS and rate if it’s being sensible, specific and authentic and if it’s achieving the intended learning objective. 

So far, an initial cohort of Trevor Project staff has been trained as crisis counselors using this tool, and we’ve started using it in our broader training curriculum. It’s easy to see why we’re excited to celebrate today’s launch of the Crisis Contact Simulator: the hard work was all in service of increasing the number of LGBTQ youth that we can help. It’s our goal that LGBTQ youth can always speak to a highly-trained crisis counselor — for free and 24/7 — and technology like AI can help us train even more volunteers to meet that goal. If you or someone you know needs help or support, contact The Trevor Project at TheTrevorProject.org/Help. 


How AI helps volunteers support LGBTQ youth in crisis

Over 1.8 million LGBTQ youth seriously consider suicide in the U.S. each year. At The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, the number of youth reaching out for support has ballooned since the start of the pandemic — at times nearly doubling our pre-COVID-19 volume. We knew we needed to train more volunteer crisis counselors to meet the growing demand for mental health support — and do so while working fully remote. The ability to connect the youth that we serve with highly trained counselors 24/7 is life-saving work, and will always hinge on human connection.


Over the last two years, Google.org has provided $2.7 million in funding and a team of nearly 30 Google.org Fellows to help scale The Trevor Project’s LGBTQ+ youth crisis support resources and technology using AI and machine learning. Most recently, Trevor and a team of Fellows built the Crisis Contact Simulator (CCS), a counselor training tool that uses AI to simulate conversations with LGBTQ youth in crisis. The simulator lets volunteer trainees practice realistic conversations with youth personas, equipping them with the skills needed to provide critical care. With this tool and other training innovations, we plan to grow our team of 700 digital volunteer crisis counselors by 10x! 


To become a volunteer crisis counselor, trainees learn about our counseling support model, active communication skills and LGBTQ identities, and take part in intensive one-on-one, human-led role play scenarios. We needed to build and test a tool that would provide a time-flexible, role-play opportunity for trainees outside of typical business hours — this was especially important since we know that nearly 70% of our digital crisis counselors volunteer on nights and weekends.  


To do so, we worked with the Google.org Fellows to bring together our knowledge and expertise in machine learning and natural language processing, product management, user experience, education, LGBTQ youth, and clinical psychology. "Through my work as a Google.org Fellow, I was able to adapt traditional user experience design practices and identify new ways for designers to collaborate with machine learning engineers. Being embedded with the Trevor project allowed us to be super collaborative with the training team as well, and gave us the opportunity to build lasting frameworks for their future AI work." said Abby Beck, a UX Design Lead at Google. 

Thanks to six months of rigorous research, feedback, evaluations and data collected from thousands of role-play transcripts between the training team and volunteers, the CCS can emulate a number of digital youth personas. This allows trainees to practice realistic conversations with a wide range of life situations, risk levels and intersectional identities that span race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. "Riley," the first digital youth persona, emulates a young person who’s struggling to come out as genderqueer. As more digital youth personas are introduced into the training program, Trevor counselors will become more adept at providing high-quality care and support to young people experiencing a variety of crises. 

Animated image of the Crisis Contact Simulator during a training session with a Trevor Project volunteer counselor.

A Trevor Project crisis counselor trainee interacts with “Riley,” one of the Crisis Contact Simulator personas who’s struggling to come out as genderqueer.

As we think about automating more training models, we wanted our training team to be able to evaluate the CCS tool. We created a human evaluation rubric that allows folks on our team to have a conversation with the CCS and rate if it’s being sensible, specific and authentic and if it’s achieving the intended learning objective. 

So far, an initial cohort of Trevor Project staff has been trained as crisis counselors using this tool, and we’ve started using it in our broader training curriculum. It’s easy to see why we’re excited to celebrate today’s launch of the Crisis Contact Simulator: the hard work was all in service of increasing the number of LGBTQ youth that we can help. It’s our goal that LGBTQ youth can always speak to a highly-trained crisis counselor — for free and 24/7 — and technology like AI can help us train even more volunteers to meet that goal. If you or someone you know needs help or support, contact The Trevor Project at TheTrevorProject.org/Help. 


Google.org’s call for a better future for women and girls

When women and girls have the resources and opportunities to turn their potential into power, it changes the trajectory of their lives and strengthens entire communities. I’ve seen this play out first hand while living in India, where public health programs that put resources and decision-making in the hands of women drove much stronger outcomes for their families and villages. I’ve seen this in my own life, when bosses — both male and female — gave me stretch opportunities and bet on my leadership. 


This is why I was excited to join our CEO Sundar Pichai to launch our globalGoogle.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls at a Google for India Women Will event earlier this morning. We’re calling on ideas from nonprofits and social organizations around the world that are working to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls and create pathways to prosperity. Google.org will provide $25 million in overall funding and Impact Challenge grantees will receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants and additional support to bring their ideas to life.


Since I started working in philanthropy over 20 years ago, I’ve seen women and girls around the world reach new heights and was thrilled when the United Nations made “gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls” one of its Sustainable Development Goals back in 2015. Still, women and men remain on unequal footing — and these inequalities have worsened in the wake of COVID-19. Globally, women are almost two times more likely to lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19, and in the U.S. alone women have lost over 5.4 million jobs, accounting for 55% of all 2020 net job losses. Women are also shouldering a disproportionate amount of unpaid domestic work, and an estimated 20 million girls around the world are at risk of not returning to school. Job cuts, income loss and lack of access to education will prevent the economic advancement of women and girls, particularly those from underserved communities, for generations to come. 


These alarming realities require swift and powerful action. We have a collective responsibility to make sure that generations of women and girls from all walks of life can live in a world where they are treated equally and reach their full potential. Over the last five years, Google.org has given more than $55 million to nonprofit organizations that support gender equity and access to opportunity for women and girls around the world. We’ve also worked with grantees, such as the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Laboratoria and GiveDirectly, that are dedicated to the same cause. This new Impact Challenge will build on that work.  


I’m honored to stand alongside our partners fromVital Voices andProject Everyone, as well as our phenomenal panel of experts, to elevate the critical work that is happening around the world. Our panel is composed of women leaders from more than 15 countries with a deep expertise in global public policy, advocacy, research, business, technology and more. They will help guide us as we select the ideas with the greatest potential for impact. 


If you’re working on an innovative project that supports women and girls, or have a bold idea that will transform economic opportunities for women and girls, then check out g.co/womenandgirlschallenge to apply and learn more about the Challenge. Organizations have until Friday, April 9 to submit ideas, and grant recipients will be announced later this year.