On Friday February 26, Justin Steele, Principal, Google.org announced the recipients of the company’s additional financial commitment aimed at bolstering the fight for racial justice.
Last year, the company launched a new, dedicated effort to support leaders who are doing critical work to end mass incarceration and combat endemic educational inequality for black and brown students. “We announced $2.35 million in grants to support leaders like #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Cullors; Chris Chatmon, who leads Oakland’s African American Male Achievement Initiative; and Raj Jayadev, who founded the criminal justice reform organization, Silicon Valley De-Bug, Steele shared.
He continued, “Today, I’m excited to continue that momentum with the addition of four more organizations in this space, totalling $3 million in new grants.”
Steele proceeded to identify the recipients of the new grants. They include San Francisco’s My Brother and Sister’s Keeper Program that is focused on eliminating racial bias within the educational systems. The Roses in Concrete Community School of Oakland and the tech-enabled college success start-up, Beyond 12 were also recipients.
In addition, a grant was awarded to Bryan Stevenson and the national, Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The Equal Justice Initiative works to counter deep-seated bias against people of color in both communities and institutions. Steele also advised of Google’s commitment to working with EJI to bring its public education work online so that millions more can experience it.
During the announcement Steele shared his personal history and relationship to the fight for social justice. “I started working with Dr. Carl Mack, VP of the city’s NAACP chapter, when I took an engineering internship in my hometown of Seattle. But it wasn’t long, before my internship took me in a completely different direction.” According to Steele at the time the city was on high alert in the wake of racial discrimination and violence.
“At his side, I was soon participating in protests and closed door meetings with city leaders—opening my eyes to non-technical solutions, and setting me off on a path that would eventually lead me to Google.org, where today I lead giving projects focused on the Bay Area and on racial justice.
Steele then focused on how recent incidences of racial violence have again dominated headlines with the killings of children like Tamir Rice and young men like Jordan Davis, the deaths of Michael Brown and Sandra Bland, and countless other acts of injustice.
“And it isn’t just heartbreaking individual stories,” Steele continued. “The data is troubling—African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. An estimated 40 percent of all students expelled from U.S. schools are black, and 30 percent are Latino.” He further stressed, “Of course, Google and our own industry needs to do more to promote equality and opportunities for all.”
Steele expressed his belief the organizations selected for the grants as well as their leaders have shown a deep, fundamental understanding of racial injustice and are actively finding ways to rid the country of its systems of social, educational and economic exclusion. “We as a company are proud to support them,” Steele concluded.
Feature photo courtesy of googleblog.blogspot.com