Google is getting into the holiday spirit with today's announcement of $40 million in philanthropic grants to causes including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and girls' education, technology, and the fight against modern day slavery.
But it's that last one I want to focus in on - Google's $11.5 million contribution is very likely the "largest-ever corporate grant devoted to the advocacy, intervention and rescue of people being held, forced to work or provide sex against their will," according to the Associated Press.
That $11.5 million is being spread to various organizations that combat slavery worldwide, according to Google's official blog entry:
Modern day slavery is a multi-billion dollar industry that ruins the lives of around 27 million people. So we're funding a number of groups that are working to tackle the problem. For instance, in India, International Justice Mission (IJM), along with The BBC World Service Trust, Action Aid and Aide et Action, are forming a new coalition. It will work on the ground with governments to stop slave labor by identifying the ring masters, documenting abuse, freeing individuals and providing them with therapy as well as job training. Our support will also help expand the reach of tools like the powerful Slavery Footprint calculator and Polaris Project’s National Trafficking Hotline.
According to that AP report, $3.5 million in that coalition's funding will go towards an intervention project in India to combat forced labor, $4.5 million will go towards an advocacy and awareness campaign also in India, and $1.8 million will go towards mobilizing Americans to action. That remaining $1.7 million will be split amongst the smaller projects mentioned.
"Each year we focus some of our annual giving on meeting direct human need," Jacquelline Fuller, director of charitable giving and advocacy for Google, told the Associated Press. "Google chose to spotlight the issue of slavery this year because there is nothing more fundamental than freedom."
The rest of that $40 million went to other charities, like:
- Boston-based Citizen Schools and Generating Genius in the UK, which aim to provide educational resources for disadvantaged youth.
- African Leadership Academy, which provides merit-based scholarships to young women across the country.
- The Afghan Institute of Learning, which offers literacy classes to women and girls in rural Afghanistan.
- Vittana, which connects would-be lenders with students in the developing world - and with a 99 percent repayment rate, both parties stand to benefit greatly.
- Code for America, which enables web developers to develop projects that benefit the public sphere.
- Switchboard, which helps African healthcare workers create networks and communicate for free.