Google is giving these 4 Pittsburgh nonprofits $50,000 apiece
The feminist makerspace Prototype PGH plans to take $50,000 and turn it into $1 million.
Prototype PGH was one of four Pittsburgh nonprofits awarded $50,000 as winners of a competition by Google to help organizations spark economic development in their communities.
Prototype PGH will use the money to put 1,000 women through 100 workshops and equip them with skills and confidence to seek raises, get higher-paying jobs or switch to more fulfilling careers. When the dust settles on Prototype's project, the organization hopes that $50,000 from Google will help those 1,000 women earn a combined $1 million more a year.
“It nearly brought me to tears,” said Erin Gatz, one of the founders of Prototype.
Google announced the winners of its Google.org Impact Challenge Pittsburgh on Wednesday at the company's office in Bakery Square. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the challenge in October at the Bakery Square offices to roll out the Grow with Google campaign to help Americans get the skills needed to get a job or start or grow a business. Pichai invited Pittsburgh-area nonprofits to submit proposals with creative and innovative ways to spark economic opportunity.
The Pittsburgh Impact Challenge was the first by Google. The company intends to host competitions in other cities where it has offices. It announced an Oklahoma City Impact Challenge in December.
The four winners were Idea Foundry, Pittsburgh Conservation Corps, Prototype PGH and Pittsburgh Community Kitchen. Each won $50,000, and the public can vote for which should win an additional $50,000.
Charlie Batch, a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, founder of the nonprofit Best of the Batch Foundation and one of the panelists who picked the final winners, said $50,000 is “huge” for these nonprofits.
“When you're running a nonprofit, you're counting all the way down to the penny,” Batch said. “You're thankful for every dollar that comes in.”
Google received more than 90 applications. Kamal Nigam, head of Google's Pittsburgh office, said Google was thrilled with the level of participation and the ideas. Whittling down the competition was tough, he said.
In addition to the goal of increasing each salary of 1,000 women by $1,000, Prototype wants to start at least five women-owned businesses.
Idea Foundry will use Google's money to help establish up to 10 businesses led by immigrants or minorities. Each business has the goal of creating five jobs within five years.
The Pittsburgh Conservation Corps will use the $50,000 to help more than 150 people previously on public assistance earn more than $10 million in combined income and perform nearly 110,000 hours of restoration work.
Pittsburgh Community Kitchen will use the grant to provide culinary training and employment up to 100 people who are coming out of jail or prison or struggling with mental illness, addiction or homelessness. Training will take place in Hazelwood, where Pittsburgh Community Kitchen hopes to open a restaurant within the next year, said Jennifer Flanagan, executive director.
Pittsburgh Community Kitchen started in 2013 and has a 90 percent success rate placing people in jobs, Flanagan said. The Google.org money will help the organization expand what they do and move toward accreditation so classes at Pittsburgh Community Kitchen could be applied toward future schooling.
Flanagan said the food and restaurant industry underpins Pittsburgh's success as a transforming city. Without a thriving restaurant scene, it is tough to recruit top talent to Pittsburgh, Flanagan said.
“This is an industry that is growing, and it needs a lot of labor,” Flanagan said.
Voting for the extra $50,000 starts Feb. 28 and runs through March 14. People can vote here .
Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.