Nonprofits in AfricaGoogle’s more philanthropic arm,, has connected and extended the endeavors of distinctive nonprofits and companies working to better their communities since 2005. This year’s efforts include providing around $50 million in funding, expertise, and tools to support these organizations. Additionally, the organization plans to train 10 million people in sub-Saharan Africa in this same time span, in order for them to be more employable and gain access to information and communications technologies, and it will train another 100,000 to develop mobile and global-capable apps. Thus far, has decided to put aside $20 million over the next five years for a range of nonprofits in Africa.

A leader in not only search engines but charity as well, Google has already chosen two African technology startups to receive $2.5 million in grants: Gidi Mobile and Siyavula. Gidi Mobile Ltd. focuses on expanding the visions of over 350 million young Africans and giving them the ability to accomplish such goals as Africa’s first mobile personal development platform. It allows people to complete courses and study materials online for all types of professional careers, connect with other learners and form a community and share personal progress with others. The company advances free content, cloud computing and both international and distinctly African content through its product Gidimo.

Siyavula similarly allows free online access to their line of published and curriculum-aligned math and science textbooks, alongside practice and teaching capabilities within the program. These are unlike restricted, copyrighted materials but adaptable without incurring costs, and allow educators to create and share accessible and open-licensed Open Education Resources (OERs). Both have in turn supported the unstifled digital education of over 400,000 underprivileged students in South Africa and Nigeria.

Through, almost $110 million has already been committed in the last five years to nonprofits in Africa and even other parts of the world that center around closing the education gap. Looking to their current portfolio, they are hoping technology will bring kids the right materials, as those who grow up in low-income areas have less access to books or are forced to use outdated, irrelevant texts. Around 221 million students today are taught in a language foreign to them, and 130 million do not learn basic math or reading despite placement in a four-year or more school system.

Moreover, 4.3 billion people lack consistent access to the internet. Technology can help solve this issue in bringing in more resources to students they can adapt to while remaining engaging and not being a financial burden. One of the first groups to win a grant in this area is the Foundation for Learning Equality, whose new platform Kolibri has brought 7,000 videos and 26,000 interactive exercises to offline students in 160 countries. This year, Google technicians are expanding Learning Equality’s content library and working with them on UX/UI, content integration and video compression technologies.

Next, Google is looking to keep teachers trained and engaged through such technology and is helping local leaders invest in tools offering such. In 2015, only 13.5 percent of teachers passed the India Central Teacher Eligibility Test. The first grant to address this went to the Million Sparks Foundation’s ChalkLit, which utilizes an app to share public curriculum-aligned content to teachers. And in 2016, the Delhi State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) selected Million Sparks as their online capacity building partner to offer in-service training for 60,000 teachers.

Lastly, hopes to reach students in conflict zones, as 32 million primary-school aged children cannot reach traditional classrooms due to crisis or displacement. One of their grantees, War Child Holland, addresses this with a game-based system that allows for a year of lessons and exercises that align with that host country. When deployed in Sudan, results showed students learned at equal and worthy rates from the approach. War Child Holland is hoping to expand to reach 170,000 children by 2020 and reach significant numbers in the Middle East and Africa.

In order to stimulate technological promise across this region, is launching an “Impact Challenge” in Africa in 2018, where the most innovative and worthwhile ideas can earn almost $5 million in grants. Similar challenges have been completed in Brazil, India and the U.K. in the past. With the support and backing of major companies like Google, such already influential nonprofits in Africa and beyond will gain further means to improve lives and educate all those otherwise lacking access to adequate education in developing parts of the world.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Google's education
Google, one of the world’s most prominent and well-known companies, has massively impacted the world. People can have any piece of information desired at our fingertips, and Google’s education has drastically changed the way children learn.

Google’s education has become so pertinent that the corporation has launched its own app to help teachers in the classroom make assignments, known as Google Classroom. More than 30 million children use Google educational apps such as Google Classroom or Google Docs. The corporation has become so important in schools that Chromebooks (Google-powered laptops) are used by thousands of students and teachers in the classroom. A child in the state of Nebraska has the same access to information as a child in New York, Florida or California. Google’s education has made the world smaller, but it comes at the price of shrinking our brains.

The connectivity of the internet is useful, but some see the internet as a drawback to education as well. Google’s education has made the world smaller, but it comes at the price of shrinking our brains. Having constant access to almost limitless information is not only bad for human discourse; it’s reportedly making us worse at remembering things. And even if we aren’t conscious of it, our brains are primed to think about the Internet as soon as we start trying to recall the answer to a tough trivia question.

Google’s education has transformed education from learning over time into a faster process, one that can easily become a mental-crutch. “Google established itself as a fact in schools,” said Hal Friedlander, former chief information officer for the New York City Department of Education, the U.S.’s largest school district. Before Google established itself in school systems, children would have to research information in textbooks and have to talk to specific adults or mentors about certain topics. Now, the first place students conduct research is on Google.

While students are capable of having research at the touch of a button, teachers are concerned about the newfound capabilities of students’ almost unlimited information resources. Teachers feel that students may be overconfident with their research methods and capabilities. Some teachers believe that students are missing out on the true and somewhat old-fashioned research experience of looking through textbooks and talking to librarians. There’s also the risk of credibility with internet sources. Not every piece of information found on Google is a reliable source of information, and without accurately researching, students are blind to false information versus the truth.

Google’s education has helped expand informational resources to every person with internet access, but there is also the possibility that this access is making our minds less powerful. There has not been much extensive research on this topic yet, and more will need to be done in the future to better understand how Google’s education affects developing minds.

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr

Shortly after President Trump issued his executive order regarding refugees, throngs of concerned citizens expressed their disapproval. Several businesses have also joined in on a commitment to aid refugees; Starbucks is among them. Starbucks plans to support refugees by hiring 10,000 individuals in 75 countries over the next five years. Hiring will initially include refugees in the United States that have helped the military in auxiliary roles.

This commitment to hiring refugees shows that Starbucks is dedicated to its mission: “Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.” Starbucks’ plans to support refugees certainly did require courage as some groups called for a boycott, claiming the company was prioritizing foreign refugees over American veterans. Such allegations were clearly unfounded, as Starbucks has an Armed Forces Network committed to helping military members and their families.

Other American businesses have decided to donate large sums to charities and NGOs. Lyft committed to raising one million dollars for the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years, while Google set up a crisis fund with the potential to raise four million dollars for various immigrant rights groups. Meanwhile, Starbucks seems to understand that meaningful employment is essential for refugees to rebuild their lives. Workforce engagement provides a sense of dignity that is lacking in simple handouts.

Given Starbucks’ strong workforce development program, the announcement is encouraging news for refugees. Starbucks is well-regarded for its college achievement plan. Eligible employees can receive full tuition coverage towards a bachelor’s degree. The need for better access to education is tremendous for refugees, as more than half of all refugees are under the age of 18. Only 25% enroll in secondary school and just one percent make it to a post-secondary institution. Just as workforce engagement helps adults gain a sense of dignity, educational engagement can foster a sense of hope in children.

Though Starbucks’ plans to support refugees is not driven by ulterior motives, it will likely prove to be a wise business decision. As survivors of unbelievable adversity, refugees often possess exceptional drive and determination. They are eager workers, hoping to rebuild their lives, and could use more help from companies like Starbucks.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Refugees on the EconomyThere has been considerable debate regarding the effect of refugees on the economy. Although refugees often do require assistance establishing their lives in new countries, there are countless stories of refugees who have succeeded through determination and innovation.

With a net worth of about $38 billion, Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, is arguably the greatest refugee success story. Brin’s family fled from Russia to the United States when he was six years old to escape anti-Semitism. Google is now the most popular search engine in the world. In 2015, Google’s search and advertising tools helped generate $165 billion in economic activity; nearly 1.5 million businesses and nonprofits benefit from Google’s ad tools. It is a shining example of the positive effect of refugees on the economy.

Similar to Brin, George Soros endured strong anti-Semitism while growing up in Europe. After the Communist takeover of Hungary, Soros moved to London then eventually to the United States. He is now one of the most successful hedge fund managers, with an estimated net worth of $25 billion. He has leveraged much of that wealth to help refugees and migrants. Last year, he committed to investing $500 million in companies founded by refugees and migrants.

Andrew and Peggy Cherng have likewise channeled some of their success to help the less fortunate. Andrew emigrated from China after the Communist takeover and Peggy is originally from Burma. The couple opened their first restaurant in 1983 and have since grown a fast food empire that generates $2.5 billion in annual sales. In 1999, they established Panda Cares, a charity dedicated to serving disadvantaged children the world over.

Although these individuals may be outliers and more successful than the average refugee, studies indicate that many immigrants share a propensity for entrepreneurship. According to the Kauffman Institute, immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans. These new businesses can help to provide employment opportunities for both native and foreign-born Americans. Immigrant-owned businesses employ a full ten percent of American workers and generate $775 billion in revenue. With such statistics, there is little question as to whether the effect of refugees on the economy is positive or negative.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Silicon Valley superpower Google is developing artificial intelligence technology that is intended to help the world solve some of its healthcare issues. Teaming up with the U.K.’s governmental healthcare structure, they hope their new invention will be able to detect and prevent eye diseases and blindness.

In collaboration with its subsidiary DeepMind, a company that uses complex algorithms to teach computers how to better analyze information and learn from it, Google will introduce about one million eye scans to DeepMind’s algorithms. They hope the artificial intelligence system will be able to analyze scans and conclude a diagnosis faster than ever before. This has the potential to allow doctors to treat a patient before a “point of no return.”

DeepMind, a London-based artificial intelligence startup acquired by Google for $500 million, is an expert at making computers behave and think like humans. They were praised for teaching a computer to master Atari system games. The computer was able to beat world masters.

Now, Google hopes to harness the cognition powers of their computers to serve the world’s sick. Although as of now the system is implemented at just one of the National Health System hospitals in the U.K., it has a global reach in its implications. More than 100 million individuals worldwide are inflicted by vision problems relating to diabetes or age. This technology could help all those millions to prevent their eye diseases and vision loss before they are even aware they have it. For global health advocates, this is a very promising innovation that could find widespread success

Google has been diligent in designing groundbreaking solutions to intractable problems. The tech giant and its umbrella company, Alphabet, have been investing a large amount of resources toward global health. Businesses are beginning to realize that investing in a healthy world returns profit, and benefits everyone.

Connor Borden

Photo: U.N. Multimedia

Reducing_Global Poverty

In a speech to the United Nations in September 2015, Mark Zuckerberg stated, “When communities are connected, we can lift them out of poverty.” During his talk, the Facebook CEO and founder asserted that increased Internet access can aid in reducing global poverty.

According to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report, 60 percent of the world’s population do not have access to the Internet. In the United States alone, 60 million people do not have Internet access at home. However, for the rest of the world’s population, technological advancement has provided enormous levels of wealth and development.

A recent report by Price Waterhouse Cooper’s consulting and strategy firm, Strategy&, states that giving internet to the world could bring extraordinary results. If the 4.1 billion people without Internet were given access, 500 million people could be brought out of poverty.

For those in poverty, the Internet provides a multitude of opportunities, including jobs, access to global current affairs and education. In 1998, the World Hospitals and Health Services Journal released an article discussing the advantages of Internet access, arguing that “Access to information is an essential condition to development.” Almost twenty years on, researchers and institutions are still looking to the Internet as a technique for reducing global poverty.

In developing and impoverished areas, most individuals cannot afford the cost of the Internet. According to the World Economic Forum, only 20.7 percent of Africa’s population use the Internet, compared to 77.6 percent of Europe’s population.

The Head of Africa for the World Economic Forum, Elsie Kanza, discussed the way in which technological advancement could help bring “vast improvements in the way the region governs, feeds, lives, educates, trades and interacts with itself.”

On a recent “Intersections” podcast, the Brookings Institute recently discussed the issue of poverty and internet access. Laurence Chandy, a fellow at the Brookings Institute, stated, “Digital technology is changing what it means to be poor because it’s bringing poor people out of the margins.”

With projects such as and Project Loon, tech giants such as Google and Facebook have begun to tackle the goal of creating widespread internet access for reducing global poverty.

Isabella Farr

Photo: Flickr

Google is not only known for its innovative technology, but also for its support of sustainability and clean energy. Google has also made a name for itself on Wall Street, investing billions in clean energy sources that have contributed to its $727 share price.

During 2011, Google made its first international investment of nearly $5 million in one of the largest solar plants in Brandenburg, Germany. The project has an 18.65 MW that powers enough energy for 5,000 homes. The majority of the modules used to create the project were from German companies who lead in the renewable energy sector.

In May of 2013, Google invested $12 million in the Jasper Power Project: Investing in South African Solar. The project will fund a 94W solar photovoltaic plant that will ultimately provide electricity to 30,000 families.

The project was developed by The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP) that promotes clean energy development.

Last month, Google made its third international investment of $12 million in support of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in northern Kenya. Google Director of Energy and Sustainability Rick Needham plans to see more investments in renewable energy resources in the developing world from Google.

He states, “The fastest growing economies are here, and there’s a strong need for critical power. Economies are being held back because they don’t have enough power — and yet they have wonderful renewable resources. These nations can meet their future and growing energy needs by tapping into some of the best renewable resources in the world.”

According to Bloomberg, renewable energy companies First Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp developed a business model that converts income from the wind and solar farms into dividends for investors. Renewable energy projects are eligible for tax benefits and see a reduced price for a solar power system under contract with Google.

If more corporate investors took advantage of these benefits, demands may grow; prices and the industry’s financing costs go down. Google has invested more than $2 billion to fund renewable energy resources programs that together will generate enough electricity to power half a million homes.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Bloomberg, Google 1, Google 2, Google Finance, Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, Wired
Photo: Wikimedia

Project Loon, a product of Google X, the semi-secret research and development facility run by Google, is an innovative operation providing inexpensive or free wi-fi to people living in remote rural areas around the world via a fleet of huge helium-filled balloons floating in the stratosphere.

According to Google, these balloons can deliver widespread economic and social benefits by bringing internet access to the 60 percent of the world’s population who don’t have it. A large portion of those 4.3 billion people live in rural or extremely remote areas where telecommunications companies haven’t found it worthwhile to build cell towers or other infrastructure.

Here’s how Project Loon will work: steered by wind and equipped with solar panels with enough power to charge the battery for use at night, each balloon will be able to power itself using entirely renewable energy sources.

Constructed out of a thin plastic similar to a heavyweight trash bag, the balloons float in the stratosphere, a layer of the earth’s atmosphere stretching about 32 miles above the surface. Flying twice as high as airplanes and operating above the weather, the balloons help mobile operators extend wireless networks into more sparsely populated and remote terrain.

With a lifespan currently lasting just over 100 days, each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area of about 50 miles in diameter using LTE wireless communications technology. LTE, short for long-term evolution, is the standard for wireless communications in high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.

In order to use LTE, Project Loon partners with telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum so that people will be able to access the internet directly from their phones or other LTE-enabled devices. The signal is then passed across the balloon network and back down to the global internet on Earth.

In Indonesia, Project Loon is teaming up with the country’s three largest wireless carriers in 2016 to test its high-altitude, wind propelled balloons. Their lofty goal is to deliver internet coverage across large pockets of the nation where 83 percent of the population currently is without internet access.

If successful, Project Loon’s collaboration with Indonesian mobile operators Indosat, Telkomel and XL Axiata would result in speeds fast enough to surf websites, stream videos or make purchases. It is estimated that 100 million people in Indonesia who are not currently connected to the internet will gain access through Project Loon.

“This is a way of changing the world,” says Mike Cassidy, Project Loon’s leader in an interview with MIT Technology Review. For just hundreds of dollars per day, the operation of one Loon balloon should be able to serve a few thousand connections at any time.

For a school principal in a rural area of northeastern Brazil, where Linoca Gayoso Castelo Branco School resides and internet service is nonexistent, she experienced the benefits of the balloons firsthand.

“It was just for some minutes, but it was wonderful,” says ­Silvana Pereira. That day’s lesson on Portugal was enhanced by Wikipedia and online maps. “They were so involved that the 45 minutes of a regular class wouldn’t be enough to satisfy their demand for knowledge,” says Pereira.

And that is just the beginning.

Kara Buckley

Sources: Google 1, Google 2, Google 3, Technology Review 1, Technology Review 2, USA Today
Photo: Wikimedia

Eastern Europe has become overwhelmed with migrants, waiting to board trains to Germany and other European countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been working with the EU diligently to create protocols and ease overstretched countries like Greece and Italy by spreading out new arrivals.

Most refugees are headed to Germany, where the country has made it clear they are accepting refugees giving them opportunities to build their lives. Other countries, such as Hungary, have completely shut their doors to fleeing refugees and have threatened to jail illegal refugees caught trying to cross into the nation.

Google, one of the most influential companies in the world has created a campaign to match donations for refugees in crisis. The campaign is called “onetoday”. Google hopes the campaign will inspire greater giving amongst humanity.Google has offered to match donations up to $5.5 million in user donations with tax deductions for U.S. citizens.

The funds will be split evenly between four organizations that Google feels have strong track records of successfully providing aid and have been on the front line since day one. These organizations include Doctors Without Borders (DWB), International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Refugees and fleeing migrants are in desperate need of medicine, clothing and food. The four organizations are working in unison to address the different needs. DWB is providing refugees with everything from psychological care and is committed to set up hospitals in refugee camps as well as helping women give birth safely.

In addition, International Rescue Committee is providing relief to refugees reaching the shores of Greece as well as Afghanistan and Syria. They also help resettle thousands of refugees every year in the United States.

Save the Children is another organization that has been working on providing shelter kits and sustainable foods. UNHCR has been working particularly with the Syrian refugees to provide life-saving assistance such as protection, shelter food, and receptions centers where refugees can be registered.

The response and outpouring has been overwhelming but more support, aid and love is needed in a hurry to deal with the migrant crisis.

Adnan Khalid

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, The Guardian 3, End Gadget, Google
Photo: arageek

Google to Raise Millions for Refugee Aid
With the refugee crisis in Syria showing no signs of slowing down, any help provided to those in need could potentially save lives. With this in mind, Google has taken the initiative to offer refugee aid by matching donations up to millions of dollars.

The tech giant has pledged to match up to approximately $5.5 million in donations to various human rights organizations. The four organizations the money will go toward will be Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Google has already built itself a sizable reputation as a charitable company. Google has previously donated over $1 million to various relief efforts. Google is hoping that this latest effort will snowball and lead to around $11 million in donations overall.

“These nonprofits are helping deliver essential assistance, including shelter, food and water and medical care, and looking after the security and rights of people in need,” Google said in a recent statement.

Adding a more personal touch to the push, this announcement was accompanied by a blog post from Google employee Rita Masoud, who fled from Kabul to Europe when she was a child.

“Our journey involved many dark train and bus rides, as well as hunger, thirst, cold and fear,” Masoud wrote. “Fortunately we received asylum in The Netherlands where I grew up in a safe environment and was able to find my way in life. I was lucky. But as the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe has grown, many people like my family are desperate for help.”

The campaign can be located here at Refugee Relief.

Alexander Jones

Sources: CNBC, Engadget, USA Today
Photo: Google Images