Causes & Community

Two years of Google.org grants for racial justice

For many years, bold leaders across the U.S. have been using technology to foster a national dialogue on systemic inequity. Through painful moments like the Charleston church shooting, Googlers, like many others, asked what we could do to advance a more inclusive society. Two years ago, alongside our Black Googler Network and its allies, Google.org started a formal grant portfolio to advance racial and social justice in the United States.

In the spirit of understanding and getting closer to these complex issues, we began funding nonprofits fighting for racial justice in the California Bay Area—home to Google and many deep-rooted justice movements. In 2016, we doubled down on our commitment by supporting national organizations using data science and research to measure disparities in our system of mass incarceration. And today, we’re building on this commitment with another $7.5 million in grants to organizations advancing reform in our justice system, bringing our support to $32 million total.

Through these latest grants, we continue to support data and research demonstrating the impact of mass incarceration. Last month, we supported LatinoJustice with a $1 million grant to improve the quality of Latinx criminal justice data and shape the narrative and storytelling on the impact of mass incarceration in Latinx communities. And today we’re providing a $4 million grant to the Vera Institute of Justice to help them build an authoritative data set that will allow researchers to measure the true economic impact of incarceration rates in rural areas.

Vera Institute: In Our Backyards

Vera Institute: In Our Backyards

Many of our initial grantees are focused on data gathering, research and analysis. We’re now also investing in organizations working on systemic solutions. For example, we’re supporting the Leadership Conference Education Fund with a $2 million grant to bolster their effort to help more law enforcement jurisdictions work with community groups, who are a critical partner in policing. The Leadership Conference has a well-known track record in this area, and they will help establish best practices that lead to more constitutional policing, less crime, and more trust and accountability. Our $500,000 grant to the R Street Institute’s Justice for Work Coalition will support their efforts aimed to bring bipartisan support for criminal justice reform and to reduce barriers to employment following incarceration.

We’ll also continue to multiply the impact of our grants with skills-based volunteer support from Googlers. Just last month, 10 Google software engineers and data scientists volunteered with Google.org grantee the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) on a full-time basis for six weeks in New York. These 10 Googlers helped build and improve CPE’s National Justice Database, the nation’s first-ever database tracking national statistics on policing. They also built software, audited tools, and improved automation efforts to help CPE better process and analyze the reports they send to partner police departments.

A Googler working with the Center for Policing Equity rides along with an officer to understand community-informed policing
Googler Austin Swift, a lead on the CPE Impact Immersion, rides along with an officer to understand his efforts to implement community-informed policing.

This isn’t the only time we’ve teamed up Googler volunteers with grantees. Earlier this year, we helped the Equal Justice Initiative launch Lynching in America, an interactive site that explores this difficult time in U.S. history. More than 200 Googlers have volunteered in grantee Defy Ventures‘ prison and post-release programs for aspiring business owners, known as Entrepreneurs-in-Training. Working with Defy, Googlers have hosted small business training courses on digital marketing, digital skills and public speaking.

In the year ahead, Google will continue to stand in solidarity with the fight for racial justice. We believe in a justice system based on equity for all, informed by data and supported by community-based solutions. We’re proud to support organizations tackling this complex and worthy challenge.

Google.org

Andra Day sings “Strange Fruit” in support of Google.org grantee Equal Justice Initiative

Music has the power to ignite change—to encourage introspection and galvanize people.

Earlier this year Google.org grantee the Equal Justice Initiative launched the Lynching in America digital experience. This platform, built with support from Google, brings together the Equal Justice Initiative’s data and research on the 4,000+ victims of lynchings with the oral histories of families who still suffer the legacy of lynching today.

This week, Grammy-nominated artist Andra Day released a new cover of the anti-lynching protest song “Strange Fruit,” originally sung by Billie Holiday in 1939. Andra’s cover—recorded to raise awareness for the Lynching in America project—encourages us to take an honest look at this painful period in American history.

Our struggle does not stop. It simply continues. Black history does not repeat itself. It evolves.

Andra Day

Since EJI launched the Lynching in America platform earlier this summer, the oral histories and site content have been viewed more than 35 million times. We’re proud to help EJI make this data and research more broadly accessible, and to support their efforts to memorialize the more than 4,000 victims of lynching and racial terror.

Tomorrow, Andra will perform “Strange Fruit” at the Global Citizen Festival, the annual concert in Central Park promoting freedom and justice for all. Tune into the live stream to watch her performance and  join us in supporting EJI in their movement for truth and reconciliation in America.

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