Google.org Announces Core Initiatives to Combat Climate Change, Poverty and Emerging Threats

January 19, 2008
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Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, annouced few noteworthy measures yesterday.

According to Google, in its continuing effort to use the power of information and technology to help people better their lives, Google.org today rolled out five core initiatives that will be the focus of its philanthropic efforts over the next five to ten years. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), will collaborate with experienced partners working in each of these fields, investing its resources and tapping the strengths of Google’s employees and global operations to advance its core initiatives.

Today’s announcement includes more than $25 million in new grants and investments to initial partners globally across many geographies. The resources come from a commitment by Google’s founders to devote approximately 1 percent of the company’s equity plus 1 percent of annual profits to philanthropy, as well as employee time.


Google.org’s focus areas include-

o Predict and Prevent

o Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services

o Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

o Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE

o Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT)

In India, as a part of its “Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services” initiative, Google .org will provide grants and work closely with organizations in India to improve essential public services for the poor.

“In their first Letter from the Founders (2004), Larry Page and Sergey Brin said that we wanted to ‘make Google an institution that makes the world a better place.’ The work of Google.org will help us do that by applying Google’s strengths in organizing information and scaling technology to these complex issues ,” said Sheryl Sandberg, VP Global Online Sales & Operations, and Google.org Board member.

Added Dr. Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org, “These five initiatives are our attempt to address some of the hard problems we as a world need to face in the coming decade. We have chosen them both because we think solving them will make a better, fairer, safer world for our children and grandchildren—and the children and grandchildren of people all over the world—but also because we feel that these core initiatives fit well with Google’s core strengths, especially its innovative technologies and its talented engineers and other Googlers, who are really our most valuable assets.”

Google.org’s “Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services” initiative aims to enhance the flow of vital information to improve basic services for the poor in India and East Africa. In many countries in the developing world, essential public services are failing, especially for the poorest members of society. Google.org will support efforts to provide information to empower communities, providers, and policy makers to improve the delivery of essential public services such as education, health, water and sanitation. Initial grants in India include*:

o $2,000,000 to Pratham, a non-governmental organization, to create an independent institute that will conduct the Nationwide Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) as well as large scale assessments in the education sector. Google.org’s goal is to expand these types of assessments to other sectors.

o $765,000 to the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS), a Bangalore-based analysis group, to create a Budget Information Service for local governments. Google.org’s goal is to facilitate better district and municipal-level planning throughout India.

o $660,000 to the Center for Policy Research (CPR), an action oriented think tank based in Delhi, to increase the debate and discourse on issues of urban local governance and urban service delivery. With the rapid expansion of cities in India, Google.org’s goal is to provide policy makers the necessary information to make more informed decisions.

o $1,015,000 to Institute for Finance Management & Research (IFMR), a Chennai based research institution, to collect district level data on development issues and map this information. Google.org’s goal is to make more development data publicly available.

o

o $880,000 to PRS Legislative Research, a Delhi based independent research group focused on increasing citizen engagement, tracking the performance of members of parliament, and procuring photocopies of state laws throughout India. Google.org’s goal is to collect public information and make it widely available.

Apart from Inform & empower to improve public services, other four global initiatives by Google .org include -

o Predict and Prevent

Google.org supports efforts to empower communities to predict and prevent events before they become local, regional, or global crises, by identifying “hot spots” and enabling a rapid response. Rapid ecological and social changes are increasing the risk of emerging threats, from infectious diseases to drought and other environmental disasters. Google.org is initially focused on Southeast Asia and tropical Africa.

o Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Google.org supports efforts to lower transaction costs to invest in SMEs, create opportunities to access larger financial markets and make investments in this sector. SMEs are critical for inclusive economic growth and job creation in the developing world, but lack the capital and tools necessary to succeed. Many micro-enterprises and most large businesses have access to capital through microfinance institutions, banks and capital markets, but SMEs remain extraordinarily underserved, creating a “missing middle.” Google.org wants to help increase the flow of capital to “the missing middle” by tackling some of the root causes that prevent these firms from becoming profitable investment opportunities.

These three new efforts join two climate change related initiatives announced earlier this year:

o Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE

This cross-Google collaboration has set a goal of producing one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal, within years not decades. The initiative, known as RE

o Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT)

RechargeIT is a Google.org initiative that aims to reduce CO2 emissions, cut oil use and stabilize the electrical grid by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology. Google.org launched a $10 million request for investment proposals this Fall, and will invest amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2 million in selected for-profit companies whose innovative approach, team and technologies will enable widespread commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and/or vehicle-to-grid solutions.

Additional Google Giving

Beyond the grants and investments announced today under Google.org’s core initiatives, Google will continue its philanthropic work through programs to leverage Google products for non-profits, including: Google Grants(TM), which donates free ads to non-profits; Google Apps(TM), which provides free, web-based services to non-profits; and contributions from departments including Google Earth(TM), which offers mapping to monitor events such as the crisis in Darfur.


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