Deborah Hailey, of the Longmont Public Library, speaks to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis before he spoke to a group of entrepreneurs at the Boulder Public Library on Wednesday. Google has started a grant program aimed to help nonprofits promote “economic opportunities.” “It’s part of the larger company initiative called Grow with Google, which is about helping individuals learn digital skills using Google tools.”
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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included a photo caption that mispelled Emma Paikowsky’s last name. The caption has been corrected.

Google is aiming to create economic opportunities in communities across the country as part of its Grow With Google initiative.

Today, the company hosted a Grow with Google free digital skills workshop at the Boulder Public Library, where it announced the Google.org Impact Challenge Colorado, a $1 million grant program to promote economic development by supporting innovative nonprofits in the state. Google has has a presence in Boulder since 2006.

The program will award $175,000 in grant funding and training from Google to five winners chosen by a panel of judges after reviewing proposals submitted by Colorado nonprofits. The winners also will compete for popular votes to receive an additional $125,000.

Nonprofits are vital to any community, but in Colorado particularly, they play an important role in creating economic opportunities and spurring growth, said Lauren Lambert, Google’s head of external affairs for the Southwest U.S. In 2017, Colorado nonprofits made an economic impact of $40 billion, she said.

Emma Paikowsky, left, and Linda Gund Anderson, of Celebrate EDU, greet Colorado Gov. Jared Polis before he spoke to a group of entrepreneurs at the Boulder Public Library on Wednesday.

“We want to support innovation and creativity. We are telling them give us your best ideas, and we’ll help support you to bring them to life,” she said.

Gov. Jared Polis, who attended today’s event at the library, in a statement said, “We are excited to announce the launch of Google’s Impact Challenge Colorado. This is an opportunity for nonprofits to make an impact in their community and get the resources they need to get their ideas off the ground.”

Applications can be submitted at bit.ly/2ZpS4iw until 11:59 p.m. Sept. 20. Winners will be announced in early December.

Colorado’s nonprofit sector is diverse like the state’s economy, Lambert said. Colorado is known for innovations in multiple fields that include, among other things, science and technology, food and beverages, manufacturing and medical, she said. The panel of judges reflects a diversity of expertise, background and policy focus areas.

The panel includes Katherine Archuleta, founding partner of Dimension Strategies; Kelly Brough, president and CEO of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System; David Miller, executive director of Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at the University of Denver; and Blessing “Yemi” Mobolade,small business development administrator for Colorado Springs.

“Creating economic opportunity is how we as a society will achieve sustainability in disadvantaged communities, removing barriers and increasing access,” Mobolade said in a statement. “I commend Google for all of their efforts to increase economic opportunity by supporting the organizations that serve our communities.”

Archuleta, of Dimension Strategies, in a statement said, “Investments like this one will help remove barriers to equal economic opportunity and ensure we are advancing the best people and ideas forward.”

The Grow with Google initiative was launched in Pittsburgh in 2017, the year Google’s Impact Challenge began, said Peter Schottenfels, communications manager with Google. Subsequently, both programs were held in Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Columbia, S.C.

In 2019, Google began offering the programs in different states, beginning with Illinois, Iowa, Nevada and now Colorado.

“We wanted to have a wider reach,” Schottenfels said.

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