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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 per the Google grant stipulation, Cossey notes, the funds have gone toward extensive research and development, including refinement of the pod design, experimentation with station and rail schemes, and logistical improvements that will accommodate several pods on a single rail moving at varying speeds.

AIMS (African Institute for Mathematical Sciences)
AIMS is a Cape Town, South Africa, organization that promotes mathematics and science in Africa and encourages promising young people to develop their countries of origin.

Google injection: $2 million "to fund the opening of additional AIMS centers to promote graduate-level math and study in Africa."

Since then: AIMS has applied the funds to the creation of the Next Einstein Initiative. "The second center of excellence in the AIMS network opened in Senegal in 2011, and the third center was launched in Ghana in 2012, providing access to post-graduate mathematical sciences education to over 500 highly talented African students," says Thierry Zomahoun, the Einstein Initiative's executive director. "The Google donation is being used in Senegal and Ghana to construct high-quality permanent facilities to the standard that an AIMS center requires in order to ensure a conducive learning environment for our students. We are incredibly grateful to Google for their belief in and support of AIMS and the students we feel will be the future of Africa."

Does PR matter?
Google is undeniably one of the most powerful companies in the world, but it's not even old enough to drive yet (perhaps that's part of the reason why it invests such a disproportionate amount of time and resources into every April Fools' Day). In its 15 years, it has evolved from competing for market share with Ask Jeeves to developing cars that don't need humans. And the company has done an excellent job at portraying itself as a "corporation that cares."

Even in 2009, $10 million was a fiduciary freckle on Google's back. As a for-profit enterprise, Google has no inherent interest in anything besides its bottom line. This amoral (as opposed to immoral) attitude is not inherently "evil." Still, while most large enterprises have charitable arms, few have been as successful as Google at cultivating the idea that they are decidedly non-evil.

Perhaps I'm being naïve by wanting to believe in a Fortune 500 corporation's altruism, but in the end that's beside the point. An initiative like 10 to the 100 shows what smart, targeted investment and a lot of media attention can attain, no matter the reason behind it.


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