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$10 million and three years later with Google's most altruistic project

Evan Dashevsky | May 15, 2013
As we near the three-year mark, we check in to see what the donation recipients from 'Project 10 to the 100' have been up to.

As we approach the 2013 Google I/O conference and wait to see what Android-enhancing and face-adhering goodies the folks in Mountain View have in store, it's a good time to take a look back at a more innocent, don't-be-evil period in the tech giant's past.

Google has spearheaded many potentially game-changing initiatives in its relatively short existence. Some of these moves have been unapologetically motivated by profit, while others could be considered morealtruisticor just good PR, if cynical is how you roll. However you regard the latter category, Google's Project 10 to the 100 certainly fits in it.

In 2010, Google gave $10 million to five ideas that would "help the most." The company granted money to "inspiring organizations" working on pioneering solutions to global challenges such as promoting STEM education via team competition, making government more transparent through online access, or innovating urban transportation with a self-propelled hamster-track monorail.

The company awarded the grants to help each organization attain a specific goal. This September will mark three years since the prizes' distribution, so we thought it would be appropriate to check in and see whether those Google windfalls have assisted in realizing ideas that actually will "help the most."

Khan Academy
As much as we'd love to believe that Khan Academy is a boarding school for aspiring Star Trek villains, it's a website that provides free educational videos, lesson plans, and other learning resources to the world. No matter who you are or where you are, as long as you have access to the Web, you have access to top-notch educational materials.

Google injection: $2 million to "support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate their core library into the world's most widely spoken languages."

Since then: At the time of the 10 to the 100 donations, the Khan Academy library had only 1700 videos. These days the Academy boasts more than 4100. The videos still cover a multitude of subjects in the STEM range for all levels K through 12, but have expanded their scope to include humanities lessons on everything from Keynesian economics to the postwar figure.

Thanks to Google's grant and the kindness of other big-name donors, the Academy also offers fleshed-out lesson plans plus interactive data to reflect a student's progress, and has pushed through a major initiative to translate the videos into various languages. According to Shantanu Sinha, president and COO of Khan Academy, among the first things the Academy did with the funds was to hire a translation coordination manager. As of this writing, the 4100 videos in the English-language library have been translated into 35,000 videos across 28 of the world's languages--all available for free.


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