Can Google’s Expanding Bay Area Philanthropy Ease Local Tensions?

Back in early July, we told you about how Google was paying extra-special attention to Bay Area nonprofits, especially ones that address expanding employment opportunities and tech careers.

A few months have now passed, but Google’s support in the area remains steady and is even growing. It's also been getting a lot of attention through its crowdsourcing approach, in light of the local housing and gentrification situation.

Related: Going Local: As Google's Philanthropy Grows, the Bay Area is a Winner

The tech giant recently pledged $5 million to nonprofits in the Bay Area focused on improving local cities. Google’s panel of local advisors includes the San Francisco Foundation’s Fred Blackwell and the San Francisco Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Audrey Cooper. With advisors’ input, Google selected 10 finalists in San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Clara, San Jose, San Mateo, and other Bay Area cities.

The types of local nonprofits that have captured Google’s attention include ones that have converted liquor stores into tutoring centers, provided zero-interest loans to small businesses, and found alternatives to prison for youth. Other groups are making legal aid more accessible and helping kids get more creative. Overall, Google is most interested in tackling homelessness, youth employment, and racial justice in the Bay Area.

As part of this funding campaign, four Bay Area organizations will receive $500,000, six will receive $250,000, and another 15 will receive $100,000. In addition to these new grants, Google also plans to reinvest in some of last year’s finalists working in these key interest areas and that have found a measure of success in their programs.

“This year, finding and funding new ideas will be just one part of the Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area,” wrote David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development for Alphabet. “When creative, socially conscious minds and the Bay Area’s innovative spirit join forces, big things can happen."

As we pointed out in our July article, Google has ramped up its local philanthropy as it matures as a company. But this is especially important in the Bay Area, which has been facing a serious affordable housing crisis as tech workers move in and push out lifelong residents. 

Although Google giving stretches worldwide, a lot of attention has been focused on the Bay Area lately, and we can’t help but suspect that those local tensions have something to do with it. Protests aren’t good for Google's corporate image, but lots of local giving might help to turn around those perceptions.

You can vote for your favorite Bay Area cause on the Impact Challenge website until October 20.