Google.org, Larry Brilliant, and Venture Philanthropy

Congratulations to Larry Brilliant for becoming the executive director of Google’s new foundation. Today’s news suggests that Google aims to make a significant impact in the work it does.

We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems.

– Sergey Brin & Larry Page

This reminds me of the Gates Foundation’s good work simultaneously battling infectious diseases abroad, supporting school libraries domenstically, and singlehandedly saving the funding situation for Oakland public schools. I am optimistic we will see something similar in terms of scale and impact from Google. At the same time, I wonder how much Google’s emphasis on venture strategies will affect its philanthropic efforts, and whether this will be good or bad in the long run.

Gates primarily funds small school initiatives in a number of U.S. cities. The foundation is hailed as a saving grace right now, but what will happen if the small schools movement does not last? In Oakland, Gates’ support has been coopted by the selection of BAYCES (Bay Area Coalition of Equitable Schools) to run the district in conjunction with state administrator Randy Ward. So now Gates money supports the entire district rather than only the new, small, autonomous schools. This model is a product of unique circumstances in Oakland, so I do not believe it has also occurred elsewhere.

One comment

  1. fred njenga says:

    want to see more action in support of african school owners compliment goverments in provision of quality education