Google.org, the popular search engine's philanthropic venture, said on Thursday it will fund more than $25 million in grants and investments. The funds will be used to fight climate change, poverty, global diseases and will support small businesses.
The grants are part of a five-point plan for the next five to ten years. The foundation previously had outlined two of the points late last year. One was to build up renewable energy sources that are less expensive than coal. The other will focus on developing solar-powered cars, ones that can plug back into a power grid.
The money comes from a commitment by Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to devote employee time and approximately 1 percent of the company's equity plus 1 percent of the company's annual profit to goodwill projects. Google said the funds are expected to be spent over the next five to ten years.
The total funding of $2 billion has been divided into larger categories such as Predict and Prevent; Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services; and Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.
Larry Brilliant, executive director of the non-profit group, said while it hasn't done anything yet, the group is hoping to use the power of Google to make a contribution by identifying hot spots for pandemics and supporting health organizations to respond quickly.
How different the world would have been if we could have found the first person who contracted AIDS from a monkey and been able to respond to stopping the disease, Brilliant said in a statement.
The company will dedicate $8.1 million toward predicting and preventing pandemic crises in Southeast Asia and Africa. Of that, $5 million will go to InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters)which prepares for and responds to global health emergencies. InSTEDD will work with health experts to address gaps in software and tech-tools and services, the company said.
The group said $2.5 million will go to the Global Health and Security Initiative (GHSI), which was originally established by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, with a goal to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats. The funds would be used for sub-regional disease surveillance systems through workforce training and better laboratory capacity in the Mekong Basin area, which includes Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Yunnan province in China
The foundation will also donate $765,000 to the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies in Bangalore, which will assist with district and municipal planning in the city. An additional $660,000 will go to the Center for Policy Research, an India-based think tank with a focus on local, urban governments.
Brilliant noted that in the U.S., two-thirds of our jobs and GDP comes from small- and medium-sized businesses, but in Africa, it's 20 percent or less. He attributed the cause to lack of funding for small- and medium-size enterprises. In response to that, Google.org will donate $4.7 million to TechnoServe, which focuses on job creation and the development of business plans in Ghana and Tanzania.
On the public service front, Google will donate $2 million to Pratham, a non-governmental organization (NGO) in India that will provide data on the state of education.