Friday, October 31, 2008

Google Announces Geo Challenge Grants

Google has announced the introduction of Geo Challenge Grants, a small grants program setup to provide nonprofits with the resources they need to take advantage of powerful and exciting online mapping tools.

Posted today on the Official Blog the program looks to help organizations use Google Earth and Google Maps to advance their work in the areas of global development, climate change and global public health.

David Bercovich, Project Manager writes "Together with the Google Earth Outreach team, we piloted the program with a small number of organizations, asking "what kind of online mapping work could you do with a small grant?" Every organization suggested a project that shares unique and useful information and tells a powerful story."

Here is an example of a project:

The Dreaming New Mexico initiative seeks to encourage adoption of clean electricity and to move New Mexico away from dirty, polluting power plants. Using the Google Earth API(browser plug-in), Dreaming New Mexico shows some of the choices available to New Mexico as it considers a move to sustainable clean energy. Click here to view the site.

Through, the Geo Challenge Grants program will be offering grants valued between $5,000 and $100,000, either directly from, or through grant recommendations from the Fund of Tides Foundation. These grants will be issued through an open application process - legally qualified, public charitable organizations with a compelling idea about how maps can help them work more effectively are eligible.

Smaller mapping applications requiring only static data might receive $5,000 in funding, while development of tools that enable many organizations to create maps might receive $100,000. is partnering with Google Earth Outreach on this program to help evaluate proposals from a technical standpoint and to help ensure the grants are successful.

How it works
  1. Think of ways in which mapping tools can help you be even more effective in your work.
  2. Apply and submit your proposal online here by December 22nd, 2008. We intend to do future submission rounds in the coming year, so if you miss this deadline, stay tuned for details on our next round.
  3. Our panel will make preliminary decisions and contact applicants within approximately 4-6 weeks of the submission deadline. A final grant determination will not be made until a due diligence review is completed and approved, and a formal grant agreement or award letter is executed. All grants are subject to compliance with all applicable laws.
  4. Grant recipients will receive funding and, as appropriate, information on technical resources.
  5. After grant funds are awarded, we'll review progress in 3 months and expect grant recipients to complete their map within 6 months.
  6. When maps are completed, we'll ask for an initial report on what what has been accomplished, and how grant recipients anticipate it will help them with their work. We'll also require grant recipients to post their maps online for anyone to see/access for free, unless there is a compelling reason why the grant recipient cannot do so.
  7. Then, 6 months later (1 year from receipt of funds,) we'll ask for a final report with feedback and metrics to understand the overall effectiveness of the map(s).
Who is eligible

Public, charitable organizations with a good idea and non-profit status in their country of incorporation are eligible to apply. You'll be asked to provide proof of your status as a non-profit, public charity as part of the application process. Please note that applicable laws may not allow us to make grants in certain countries or to certain entities.

Grant evaluation criteria
  • Potential impact toward your organization's goals.
  • Assessment of organization/team (organization's background, their work in the areas of's core initiatives).
  • Preference will be given to layers that directly complement at least one of's core initiatives.
  • Emphasis on the geo-spatial aspect of the organization's work.
  • Precise articulation of data sources and/or realistic plans to acquire data is critical. Preference will be given to proposals where either data already exists or the data collection plan is realistic and practical, given resources.
  • Quality of planning (the plan should include concrete, measurable and realistic goals given time, people, and money constraints).
  • Meets all applicable legal requirements.
  • Passes the necessary due diligence review. is a hybrid philanthropy project created by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004. They pledge to use Google massive resources, including 1% of Google's equity and profits in some form, as well as employee time, to address some of the world's most urgent problems.

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