In this season of holiday cheer, we’re very cheered to report that Google Inc. has given Ashoka $1 million to support our News & Knowledge Entrepreneurs program.
We’re gratified that a company whose mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” will fuel our global incubator for emerging innovators in the media realm. With Google’s grant, Ashoka’s Changemakers division will host a collaborative online competition to source hundreds of curated solutions from around the world. The insights generated by this competition will help us identify and elect at least four new Ashoka Fellows on four continents.
All of this work will focus on a central challenge in the news and knowledge realm: How to drive innovation that advances information citizenship while preserving key news and knowledge values — among among them, freedom of information; access to information; quality of information; and privacy. We're arguably closer than at any point in history to a world where everyone has access to the information they need to be effective, change-making citizens. Yet the forces that drive this revolution – new technologies, rapidly changing needs of information users, and entrepreneurial strategies that seize on market opportunities – also threaten to compromise its impact on society. The emerging mechanics of a new sort of information citizenship, which allow people to become more literate, more engaged, and better prepared to participate, are in tension with values that are foundational to democratic society.
We believe there is a critical need for social entrepreneurs to devise solutions that address these points of tension. With Google’s support, we expect to engage a community of more than 500,000 socially-minded citizens in a global movement for media transformation; and to fuel entrepreneurship on four continents that reinvents the way media creates impact.
Google’s grant to Ashoka is part of its $20 million in seasonal gift-giving to several organizations, including Bharti Foundation, Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, and UNICEF. More broadly, the grant helps Google meet its target of giving away 1% of its equity and profits each year to make the world a better place. Google says it will give over $140 million this year.
Ashoka is the world’s leading engine for social change. Its network of over 3,000 Fellows powers transformative social innovation in more than 70 countries; its Changemakers, Youth Venture, and AshokaU programs engage hundreds of thousands of citizens in making change. The News & Knowledge Entrepreneurs program, created in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, advances citizenship and strengthens democratic society by identifying and supporting innovations that better inform, connect, and engage people.