Local nonprofits can now drink from a new firehose of philanthropy. In an announcement Monday, Google officials launched their biggest grant program to date for Bay Area charities looking to grow their reach.
The company's new "Bay Area Impact Challenge" is putting forward $10 million to help fund the work of regional nonprofits. In total, Google plans to award grants to 35 nonprofits, including five that will receive $1 million apiece. The grants are being made through the company's charity arm, Google.org.
This is not the first time the company has put forward this kind of money for Bay Area do-gooders. Similar regional impact challenges were offered in 2014 and 2015.
Among the top ideas that came out of those competitions were SubArt, an effort to bring public art to BART and Muni stations, and Literacy Lab, which provides digital books to low-income families in Santa Clara County. Large grants were also given to City Year, an East San Jose program to prevent high school dropouts, and Kiva, a no-interest loan initiative for Oakland small businesses.
The Bay Area Impact Challenge was tabled for a few years, but the idea of having charities compete for large grants was implemented for other programs. Last year, Google.org launched an "AI for Social Good" grant program to find ways to harness machine learning for the betterment of mankind. Locally, Google and other tech companies partnered in 2017 to launch "Inspire Mountain View," a similar contest for nearby charities that could offer ideas to strengthen the community.
In total, Google.org representatives say they have doled out more than $250 million in grants and employee donations to Bay Area nonprofits. The Google team also highlights the company's $1 billion commitment to help foster Bay Area housing.
"For over 20 years, we've partnered closely with Bay nonprofits, supporting those who are on the front lines of addressing the Bay Area's most pressing needs," said Jacquelline Fuller, Google.org president.
To appraise the worthiness of each idea, Google.org is bringing on a judging panel with some familiar names. Among the nine judges are former 49ers safety Ronnie Lott, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Warriors star Stephen Curry and his wife, chef and actress Ayesha Curry.
An extra $1 million prize will be given to the finalist that wins a "People's Choice Award" through a public vote.