A lot of people already know that Yelp has a huge impact on consumers and local businesses around the world. An average of 117 million unique visitors use the site every month in 23 different countries. Fewer people know that the non-profit Yelp Foundation was created in 2011 to find new ways of helping consumers and local businesses. The Foundation’s mission is to support community literacy and small business growth by making grants to local non-profits which are actively engaged in those initiatives.
As a longtime Yelp employee and founding member of the Board of Directors of the newly created Yelp Foundation, I was excited to see what kind of an impact we could have on local communities.
But where to start? The Foundation decided the best way to make an informed decision was to poll the most in-the-know locals around – Yelp employees! Several champions came forward to produce educational videos on each nominated organization. From there, the options were narrowed down until the Foundation was able to confidently select the winning organizations.
In its first year of existence, the Yelp Foundation matched Yelp employee donations to give a combined total of more than $100,000 to charity. This year the bar has definitely been raised, with grants of $100,000 each going to three local San Francisco-based non-profits.
And the winners are (drumroll please)…
This non-profit organization’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
826 Valencia is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Their services center around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen when trained tutors work one-on-one with students and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. They offer a range of programs, all free of charge, for students, classrooms, and schools in the Bay Area.
Since 1988, Women's Initiative has been assisting high-potential low-income women who dream of business ownership. Through an intensive 20 session program – in English or Spanish – women are enabled to start, or expand their business.
In addition to the three local non-profits who received grants, a fourth $100,000 grant was awarded to a group of organizations that support consumer free speech and legislative efforts to protect it from meritless lawsuits meant to intimidate and silence discourse.
We hope these grants will enable each of these organizations to continue the good work they’re already doing and provide an opportunity to impact the lives of even more community members, in San Francisco and around the world.