Celebrating Google.org grantees for their collective impact in 2020

Published in
4 min readFeb 18, 2021


Yesterday, we sent this note to the nonprofits we work with to celebrate their accomplishments.

Our grantees have lifted mountains to help communities affected by COVID-19 across the world. We wanted to pay tribute to their work by sharing back what they collectively accomplished in 2020. What they do inspires us on a daily basis. We hope that sharing this letter will inspire others too.

Dear Google.org grantees,

Last February, after just finalizing our 2020 annual planning, our team at Google.org was gearing up for another big year. Then like many of you, our worlds quickly changed, and in March we shared our largest ever one-year commitment: $100M in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Many of you also put your plans on hold, whether to redirect your work to those most affected by COVID-19 or to adjust to the new modes of delivery, funding realities, and upended lives brought about by the crisis. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, your work has undoubtedly brought much needed relief and support to millions of people. We wanted to pay tribute to your impact by sharing what you’ve been able to collectively accomplish in 2020.

Providing emergency cash assistance

When millions of people lost their income and struggled to pay rent or put food on the table, we saw governments and nonprofits respond with emergency cash assistance. As long-time believers in the benefits of cash assistance, we were glad to see this movement and doubled down on our support to those of you who’ve been pioneering and building the case for cash assistance for years. Through your work, 149,000 people received emergency cash assistance last year, with 64% being women. You came up with new approaches and products that helped meet the moment, like apps to deliver cash electronically for the unbanked or partnerships to fast-track the distribution of cash to those who have been hit the hardest.

Helping people find new jobs

Estimates show 255 million people worldwide lost their jobs last year, a group that was disproportionately made up of service and hospitality workers, women, and people of color. While the economic damage was widespread, the shift to a virtual-first world created new opportunities for online training, especially for the types of technology jobs that can be done remotely. At the end of last year, for example, LinkedIn reported that roles like “online specialists”, “python developer” and “UI Designer” were still growing fast amid the downturn. Despite having to shut down physical training facilities, you were successful in fast-tracking the move to online training, building on years of experience supporting people to grow their skills in these critical areas. As a result, you helped 83,000 people find new jobs. 72% of your beneficiaries were low-income, 52% were women and, in the US, 67% were people of color.

Enabling small businesses to stay afloat and pivot

Small and medium sized enterprises represent 95% all businesses and 60% of employment worldwide. They were also the most badly hit by the pandemic. With access to credit becoming a matter of survival, you stepped in to provide emergency loans to 50,000 small businesses, primarily focused on those owned by women and people of color. One thing we learned from you is that combining lending capital with grant funding support frees up the possibility for lenders to innovate and better serve the needs of their communities. Small businesses around the world showed incredible resilience by pivoting to offer services online. You helped 66,000 of them successfully make that pivot by offering mentoring support to digitize their services.

Supporting teachers and students with distance learning

At the height of global lockdowns, 1.5 billion children were affected by school closures. 1 in 3 students did not have access to remote learning. Through your work, 4.7M teachers and students received distance learning support. You stepped in to develop new distance learning resources for parents and teachers to help them continue to provide high-quality education to the children most affected by learning disruption. Many of you quickly thought of new ways to deliver learning, like utilizing public TV streaming or helping teachers deliver educational care packages to students and families.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate your impact

2.4M people directly benefited from the AI-powered tools and services you developed and deployed, which also enabled an average 50% reduction in the time it took to deliver on your objectives. As the pandemic disproportionately affected more vulnerable populations, you put AI to work to create detailed forecasting and more targeted responses to the impacts of the virus. You also went well beyond that, using natural language processing to improve engagement between parents and teachers, deep learning to better match refugee jobseekers with available positions, and image processing to accurately identify antibiotic-resistant disease. You successfully used AI to improve and scale your response in the face of growing need.

We are proud to stand beside you as you help your communities work to recover and rebuild. Not only has your work been remarkable, but we would remiss not taking this opportunity to acknowledge the time you all take to share this data with us. Please feel free to send us a note if you have any questions or feedback.

We wish you all the best for the year ahead. Stay safe and keep making the world a better place.




We bring the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges & provide opportunity for everyone. Learn more at Google.org