Yesterday, Google announced its finalists for the Bay Area Impact Challenge, its latest effort to assist nonprofits in the region through grants and support from Googlers willing to volunteer their time.
The company is letting anyone vote for their favorite nonprofits among the finalists. On June 3, it will announce which four received the most votes, and offer them each a $500,000 grant and access to a co-working space in San Francisco, and will encourage employees to volunteer for their causes.
I’ve spoken to the finalists to find out what the community would get out of Google’s grants and support. If you’re unsure who to vote for, this should help guide you to the nonprofit that will benefit the cause you care about most.
Health Trust – Among its efforts to enable healthier living, Health Trust operates food carts in SF that are strategically placed to let kids pick up healthy fruits and vegetables on their way home from school instead of stopping by a 7-Eleven and picking up a snack. With studies showing that nearly one-fourth of kids is malnourished, Health Trust’s goal is to double the number of youth it reaches through its cart program by increasing the number of carts and strategically placing them on common routes between schools and residential neighborhoods.
Community Music Center – The Community Music Center aims to make music accessible to people of all ages. With its application to the Bay Area Impact Challenge, it’s hoping to bring the benefits of music and community participation to those above the age of 60. In August 2012, the CMC partnered with the University of California, San Francisco, to research and document benefits of singing in community choir, starting with 12 different community choirs. If given the $500,000 grant, their choir program will be able to continue for a minimum of two years, impacting 400 choir participants and thousands of performance attendees each year. In addition to the grant, Google has offered to provide online marketing and analytics for the choir’s performances and assistance in the form of employees volunteering.
BUILD – BUILD targets schools with high drop-outs rates, low graduation rates, and low college acceptance rates. It provides mentors who, through deep engagement, teach entrepreneurial skills that help to not only get students through school but come out prepared for the real world. With the $500,000 grant from Google, the nonprofit would like to expand to San Francisco and San Jose from their current locations in Redwood City, Oakland and East Palo Alto. Currently, they serve 825 high school students in the Bay Area — their planned expansion would increase that 300 percent to 3,000. In addition to the grant money, Google has promised the nonprofit greater exposure to its employees, a huge promise considering the fact that the vast majority of its mentors come from corporate sponsors.
SubArt – With the grant from Google, SubArt wants to use art to bring “themed connectivity” to BART and MUNI stations throughout the Bay Area. It would put the money towards engaging the public in a dialogue, including hosting large workshops and paying research firms for polling and to conduct focus groups to identify which cultural factors bring residents of the Bay Area together. The benefits aren’t just aesthetic: Studies have shown that people will walk farther to/between public transit when they have engaging public art to consume as part of their commute.
Hack the Hood – Hack the Hood is a six-week summer program that teaches at-risk students technical skills and puts them to work for local businesses who can’t afford to hire technical employees full-time. The students receive $1,000 for their participation. Google’s grant would let the program expand from 20 to 100 students and let the nonprofit offer the program year round.
Mission Asset Fund – According to CEO José Quiñonez, the Mission Asset Fund currently partners with nine nonprofits in San Francisco and Alameda County to “formalize informal loans” — basically, reporting loans between friends to credit bureaus so that a small loan to help buy a bike can improve one’s credit score. Mission Asset Fund plans to use the $500,000 grant from Google to expand its partnerships to a total of 28 nonprofits and improve the technology behind its “Social Loans Platform,” built on Salesforce CRM.
Beyond 12 – Beyond 12 seeks to improve the higher-education outcomes of students across the country through a combination of data collection and mentorship. With the $500,000 grant from Google, the nonprofit would increase the number of students whose progress it tracks from 32,000 to 100,000 and the number of students it coaches from 2,000 to 10,000 in addition to rolling out a new mobile platform that will better facilitate both sides of its effort. In addition to the financial aid Beyond 12 would receive, Google would help by providing mobile developers (on a volunteer basis) to improve the mobile experience provided by its platform.
Pogo Park – Parks are an important cultural center in any city. They give those who live in urban areas a place to get some fresh air; children, a place to run around and play; and Millennials a place to walk their French bulldogs. Pogo Park plans to use the grant from Google to improve the parks and playgrounds in Richmond’s Iron Triangle in order to improve the health and well-being of thousands of at-risk children.
Bring Me A Book - One of the biggest keys to improving life-long academic success is instilling a love of reading at a young age. Bring Me A Book plans to use the grant from Google to provide libraries in the Bay Area with high-quality children’s books and read-aloud workshops for disadvantaged children.
Center for Employment Opportunities - CEO helps those who have been incarcerated break from the vicious cycle of the penal system and unemployment by providing “transitional employment” and job placement. With the grant from Google, the nonprofit would like to expand its employment program to 300 employees in Oakland and 200 in San Jose over the next two years, as well as place another 280 into paid jobs.