Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org, is giving millions to groups in the Bay Area fighting systemic racism. According to USA Today, the company has set aside $2.35 million to support #BlackLivesMatter activism as well as groups addressing income inequality, the criminal justice system, and other issues. The move represents a particular outsized statement from the tech giant, especially when tech companies continue to face scrutiny concerning the presence of women and people of color in their ranks.
An official announcement will reportedly take place tonight at San Francisco's famous Castro Theatre during a screening of 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, a documentary about the shooting death of Jordan Davis, an unarmed black 17-year-old shot outside of a Florida gas station in 2012. The decision to hold the announcement there is clearly meant to help put a fine point on Google's desire to help the disenfranchised in the city. "We hope to build on this work and contribute to this movement for racial justice," Justin Steele, Google.org's lead in the Bay, told the paper.
"We hope to build on this work and contribute to this movement for racial justice."
Organizations receiving the grants include the Ella Baker Center, which will get two $500,000 grants for programs that will help develop a police violence reporting app and help low-earning workers and the formerly incarcerated earn more in the restaurant industry. The Oakland Unified School District is getting $750,000 to help improve graduation rates in the city. Finally, the Silicon Valley De-Bug group will receive $600,000 to help improve advocacy to at-risk communities in San Jose while helping them better deal with the criminal justice system.
After weathering years of criticism, tech companies are not only slowly improving the diversity in their staffs, but are increasingly donating money to improve the entire industry. Apple and Google together donated nearly $1 billion to help improve diversity in tech this year. Still, money alone won't solve the problem. It's good to see Google identifying groups doing the hard work on the ground, but there's always more hands-on work to be done to dismantle the systems holding people back.