As chairperson of the Yelp Foundation, calling nonprofits to surprise them with the news that they’ve won a Yelp Foundation grant is one of my favorite moments of the entire year. This year, I was able to make 14 calls and award $1.2 million in grants to nonprofits that advance the Yelp Foundation’s mission of supporting access to information, education, local economic development, and freedom of expression in local communities.
I am proud to announce this year’s recipients of Yelp Foundation grants:
Each year since 2013 the Foundation has enlisted the help of Yelp employees to recommend which organizations should receive a grant. Employees can nominate any 501(c)(3) that is aligned with the Foundation’s mission for consideration, and out of that group a handful of the frontrunners are identified. An employee who is passionate about each organization acts as its champion, presenting to the company and Foundation board on how the grant money will make an impact and help drive the Foundation’s overarching goals. Many of the champions have actually participated in the programs they are presenting and share personal stories about the impact it has had on their lives, leading to the jobs they now hold at Yelp. Based on those presentations, Yelp employees vote on their favorite nonprofits, and the Yelp Foundation board considers those votes when making their final decision.
A record number of Yelp employees participated in the voting process, nominating more than 100 nonprofits and championing 26 organizations before the winning 14 were chosen. Since some employees may not be able to make their own personal donations, this is our way of getting folks involved to make sure the Yelp Foundation is supporting organizations they care about. For those who are able to donate, the Foundation will again match Yelp employee donations of up to $1,000 per employee through the end of 2015 to effectively double their impact.
As of today, the Foundation has awarded a total of $2.6 million in grants and more than $400,000 in employee donations and matching.
As the impact of the Foundation continues to grow, it’s exciting to see the difference this money can make to the organizations who receive it. By the numbers, a Yelp Foundation grant can go a long way. Here’s what $100,000 could do at some of this year’s grant winning nonprofits:
$100,000 provides 2,500 Aim High teachers with access to workshops taught by expert educators
$100,000 will purchase 2,000 textbooks for students at $50 each through the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
$100,000 will fund 3,333 hours of fine arts programming for kids through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix
A few nonprofits shared their plans with us already. 826 National hopes to use Yelp Foundation funds to support local chapter expansion, including 826 Valencia's expansion to the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco and 826DC's new home. Kiva Zip hopes to put some of their grant award towards their Kiva City SF program, and KIPP Bay Area will use some of the funding to reach their goal of serving four times the amount of students in the next five years.
We can’t wait to see these grants get put to use! To learn more about the Yelp Foundation and see previous grant winners, go to yelpfoundation.org.