Editor’s note: Today we’re opening the doors of Google's Community Space, located in our 188 The Embarcadero office in San Francisco, which offers Bay Area nonprofits free access to event space and co-working areas. Since January, we’ve run a pilot program with more than 50 organizations who have hosted 100+ events to ensure that the space and resources are flexible and beneficial to the needs of local organizations. As part of today's opening, we're also sharing that in 2016 alone, Google.org supported Bay Area nonprofits with $50M in direct grant funding, and Googlers have volunteered over 89,000 hours of their time to local organizations.
This post comes from Shaun Tai, the Executive Director at Oakland Digital and Product Lead at BRIDGEGOOD.com. He talks about his experience hosting weekly programs in the Community Space and the many ways he and his team are supported by Google.org and Googler volunteers.
Every Wednesday this year, Oakland Digital has brought a group of community college students to Google’s 188 The Embarcadero office so they can collaborate, learn, and work on community-benefit projects. These students are part of BRIDGEGOOD—an online hiring platform that connects under-resourced creatives (e.g., graphic designers and artists) with real-world design and marketing projects generated by businesses and nonprofits throughout the community.
Oakland Digital has proudly participated in a pilot program that Google.org has been running for 50 local organizations to provide feedback for their new Community Space. Nonprofit organizations know that finding affordable space in the Bay Area is a constant and growing issue. Working in close collaboration with local organizations, Google’s 8,400+ square feet of event and meeting space is an absolute game changer. It’s flexible enough for nonprofits to host collaborative brainstorming sessions to larger capacity, full-day seminars. Since the pilot started, there have been more than 100 events in the space, and in true Google fashion, their teams have “launched and iterated” by taking feedback and implementing changes into the space so it could better suit our needs. Other perks: the space comes fully-stocked with a microkitchen, a conference room, an area to hold workshops, a maker’s space, Chromebooks, VR equipment and more.
Google's support of Oakland Digital started in 2012 when Googlers Mary and Steve Grove educated small businesses at Oakland City Hall about the power of technology. Each year, our relationship and community impact has grown—from board membership, thought leadership, and in 2015, funding. Google shares Oakland Digital’s belief that creativity can change the world— and recognized that an overlooked pipeline of creative talent comes from community colleges.
As such, Google.org provided significant support—a multi-year, six-figure grant for us to build, design, create, and deploy our BRIDGEGOOD web application. Oakland Digital is most proud that local students are a part of design and engineering process—having access to Google’s community space has inspired and boosted the confidence of our beneficiaries. The equipment, the technology, and the space itself has allowed us to work more productively together.
The energy that exists at Google.org, combined with access to this new Community Space and its nonprofit-driven programs, is fueling positive change and will make a difference. It’s that same combination of energy and access that will help other local Bay Area social entrepreneurs further their scale and impact.
So to my fellow Bay Area nonprofits and social good innovators, I invite you to come check out Google’s Community Space and apply for membership to start the process to host your events and programs in the space today at g.co/communityspace. Membership for the space is free—just click on “Become a Member” at the top right. The website also includes details on what is included in the space and programs that Google.org will coordinate throughout the year.
Stay inspired, continue to spread inspiration, and remember that with creativity and leadership, anything is possible.