Hangout Bridges: Bringing together young Jews and Arabs

The fortressed city of Acre lies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in northern Israel. An important Middle Eastern city in ancient times, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its fortified walls, citadel, mosques, synagogues, khans, baths and Crusader structures, Acre has always been a meeting place for East and West, new and old. Today, it’s a mixed Jewish-Arab city, but people from the two communities interact all too rarely. Mistrust, and sometimes outright hostility, keep the two communities apart.

We wanted to see if the Internet could help break down some of these barriers. So last September, a group of 40 students from the separate Arab and Jewish schools in the city, together with 200 Arab, Jewish, Druze and Bedouin students from other communities in Israel, took part in “Hangout Bridges: Bridges to Peace.” A partnership with ORT, Israel’s largest educational network of schools and colleges, and the Peres Center for Peace, the program uses Hangouts to help create understanding—and friendship—between these communities.

Grouped together by their teachers into multi-cultural Google+ circles, the students got to know each other online and started working on joint projects. Each circle met on average 10 times on Hangouts, then in a series of face-to-face meetings.

Last week, we hosted the finale event of the program at Campus Tel Aviv, a tech hub for developers and entrepreneurs at our Tel Aviv office. The students and their teachers enjoyed a creative session with System Ali, a multicultural rap group, and an inspirational talk with the leaders of MEET, an educational initiative that brings together young Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The students then presented the projects they’ve been working on for the last eight months, including a walking tour of Acre using Google Maps that seeks to uncover the rich Jewish-Arab history of this ancient city; educational Hebrew-Arabic websites that address racism and prejudice in sports, provide information on relevant legislation and offer quizzes on the topic; and an original song performed in Hebrew, Arabic and English, emphasizing coexistence and mutual respect.

This is the second year we’ve run “Hangout Bridges” in Israel. For our next course, starting this coming fall, we’re doubling the number of participants. We hope we can expand to other countries and help—in a small way—build bridges of mutual understanding around the world. As participant Wasim Jass put it: “I learned that we can cast off the hatred and plant love in its place.”

Posted by Doron Avni, Senior Policy Manager, Middle East, Africa, Turkey & Israel

Meet the Bay Area Impact Challenge winners

Ten days ago, voting opened for Google’s first Bay Area Impact Challenge, and now the tally is in. On the ballot? Ten amazing nonprofit proposals to make a difference in our community.

Between May 22 and June 2, nearly 200,000 votes poured in (191,504 to be exact)—adjusted for population, that makes it the highest voter turnout we’ve had in a Challenge to date. Now we’re unveiling the winners. Each will receive $500,000 in funding and support from Google:

  • Hack the Hood will address digital equity by training low-income youth to build websites for local small businesses, actively supporting them to launch their own tech careers.
  • Center for Employment Opportunities will develop a tech platform to prepare formerly incarcerated people for employment in a digital world.
  • The Health Trust will create new distribution channels for people to get affordable produce, expanding options for street vendors, corner stores, and farmers’ markets for underserved areas.
  • Bring me a book will give kids access to digital books, in multiple languages, while creating a supportive online community for parents and caregivers.
Hack the Hood celebrates their win with community advisor Reverend Cecil Williams

But everyone wins in this competition: The six remaining finalists will each receive $250,000, and we also gave an additional 15 nonprofits around the Bay Area $100,000 each.

Finally, all 25 Google Impact Challenge nonprofits will receive one year of accelerator support at our first-ever impact lab, a co-working space launched in partnership with Impact Hub SF, a shared workspace for entrepreneurs committed to positive social and environmental change.

Nonprofits will have access to networking events, meeting space, and development workshops in the Impact Hub SF, as well as membership to all U.S. Hub locations. We also plan to host community events for the Bay Area nonprofit community throughout the year—so check out our website or follow us on Google+ to stay in the loop.

Now the work really begins, and we’re excited to continue to build on our ongoing efforts to give back to the community.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org

Through the Google lens: search trends May 23-29

This week we saw searches on everything from surprises on the court to retro reads.

Books in the news
On Wednesday, the beloved author Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. More than 2 million searches have taken place this week as people looked for information about her life and work. Popular queries related to the author this week include [maya angelou quotes], [maya angelou poems] and [still i rise].

Take a look, it’s in a book… on the web? More than 30 years after it first premiered, the beloved PBS show “Reading Rainbow” was in the news this week when former host LeVar Burton formed a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Reading Rainbow literacy program. In less than 24 hours, Burton had met his goal of a million dollars.

Sporting surprises
The NBA and NHL playoffs continue to dominate sports fans’ minds, but this week in addition to the more expected [rangers], [blackhawks], [heat], [spurs], etc. there were a few less common sporting searches. Rapper 50 Cent threw out a first pitch for the Mets on Tuesday, and it was a little, um, off the mark. People headed to Google to look for video and GIFs of the wild pitch. Some might say 50 Cent may want to stay in da club and off the mound.

Meanwhile in tennis, French Open number-one seed Serena Williams was defeated by a lower-ranked young player, Garbine Muguruza, who grew up idolizing Serena’s game. Finally, anticipation for summer soccer is heating up. Late last week we learned that player Landon Donovan would not be included in the United States’ World Cup roster this year. Searches for Donovan immediately spiked to reach a new high for the last year, with related terms [klinsmann] and [landon donovan twitter] rising as well.

Long weekend festivities
This week marked Memorial Day in the U.S., and many Americans celebrated with [parades] and [fireworks] to honor service members, and also hit up the mall for weekend [sales]. Other celebrations took place this weekend too: amidst a host of college students walking across the dais this weekend, there was one grad who’s more known for her prowess in a fictional school. Harry Potter star Emma Watson graduated from Brown University (the Hogwarts of Rhode Island) this weekend, and searches for the actress were even higher than when she presented at the Oscars (woo, education!). But no weekend wrapup would be complete without at least a mention of… yes, Kimye. The long-anticipated and not-so-secret nuptials of Kanye West and [kim kardashian] took place in Europe over the weekend, leading hordes of curious searchers to look for dirt on the dress, the rehearsal dinner and more.

Last but—in my book—certainly not least: comedian Bill Murray showed up unexpectedly at a bachelor party in Charleston, South Carolina, where he gave a toast with some life advice on finding “the one.” Because if anyone knows how hard it can be to find the one, it’s Phil Connors.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [yamasho] and [bee dance meaning]

Hop on board—and go almost anywhere—with public transit on Google Maps

More than 70 percent of the world’s population doesn’t own a car1—a surprising fact for anyone who’s sat for what seems like hours on end in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Millions of people rely on public transit to get around. That’s why, since 2007, we’ve worked to include public transit routes and schedules in Google Maps. In fact, buses, trains, trams and subways included in Google Maps travel 200 million kilometers every day—that’s the equivalent of driving every single road in the world three times!2

Today, Google Maps is helping you get around on public transit even more easily with these additions:

  • We’ve added every single transit route in Great Britain to Google Maps—making it easier to get anywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
  • On the other side of the globe, Vancouverites looking for sun can now get real-time updates on whether a bus to Kits is faster than one to Third Beach.
  • In Chicago, Cubs fans can now zip to and from Wrigley Field, armed with the real-time information they need to hop on a bus and avoid congestion on Lake Shore Drive.
  • And finally, just in time for the games, we’ve recently added transit information for every host city in Brazil. Can you say “GOOOAAALLLLL?!”

Our transit data spans six continents, 64 countries and more than 15,000 towns and cities worldwide. And we’re not done yet: Google Maps will continue to improve—serving people the information they need to get around town when and where they need it.

Posted by David Tattersall, Product Manager, Public Transit


1 This estimate is based on the most recent World Bank data on the number of passenger cars per 1,000 people throughout 100 countries and territories. Passenger cars refer to road motor vehicles, other than two-wheelers, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine people (including the driver).
2 CIA World Factbook

Hop on board—and go almost anywhere—with public transit on Google Maps

More than 70 percent of the world’s population doesn’t own a car1—a surprising fact for anyone who’s sat for what seems like hours on end in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Millions of people rely on public transit to get around. That’s why, since 2007, we’ve worked to include public transit routes and schedules in Google Maps. In fact, buses, trains, trams and subways included in Google Maps travel 200 million kilometers every day—that’s the equivalent of driving every single road in the world three times!2

Today, Google Maps is helping you get around on public transit even more easily with these additions:

  • We’ve added every single transit route in Great Britain to Google Maps—making it easier to get anywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
  • On the other side of the globe, Vancouverites looking for sun can now get real-time updates on whether a bus to Kits is faster than one to Third Beach.
  • In Chicago, Cubs fans can now zip to and from Wrigley Field, armed with the real-time information they need to hop on a bus and avoid congestion on Lake Shore Drive.
  • And finally, just in time for the games, we’ve recently added transit information for every host city in Brazil. Can you say “GOOOAAALLLLL?!”

Our transit data spans six continents, 64 countries and more than 15,000 towns and cities worldwide. And we’re not done yet: Google Maps will continue to improve—serving people the information they need to get around town when and where they need it.

Posted by David Tattersall, Product Manager, Public Transit


1 This estimate is based on the most recent World Bank data on the number of passenger cars per 1,000 people throughout 100 countries and territories. Passenger cars refer to road motor vehicles, other than two-wheelers, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine people (including the driver).
2 CIA World Factbook

Welcome to the Tech Hub Network family, Capital Factory!

Austin is home to some of the best barbecue in the country, a killer live music scene, and an energy that can match any other city in the world. It’s no coincidence, then, that it’s also home to some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there, which is why we’re pleased to welcome Capital Factory, an Austin-based incubator and co-working space for startups, to the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network. The city’s thriving startup community and deep bench of engineering talent, combined with its natural creativity and eclecticism, make it the perfect place to expand.

Capital Factory is the eighth space to join the Network, a group of partner organizations across the U.S. that does everything from hosting accelerator programs for talented developers to providing desks for entrepreneurs. Google for Entrepreneurs provides funding to all the hubs and give them access to mentorship opportunities and Google products.

In just over six months, the Tech Hub Network is already having a dramatic effect on entrepreneurs around North America. Seventy-one percent of startups say their hub is having a significant impact on their growth, and companies from the Network have raised more than $50 million and created 1,200 jobs since becoming members. Just last month, we hosted a Demo Day for these hubs, where 10 startups raised millions of dollars to help grow their businesses.

To give these entrepreneurs an even greater boost going forward, starting today anyone who works in one of the eight tech hubs or Google’s Campus London and Tel Aviv will be able to work for free from the other member spaces when traveling. This will give startups a home base when they’re on the road, and the chance to spread and exchange ideas from city to city.

Not too long ago, Google was just a small startup in a garage. Now that we’ve grown up a bit, we want to give others a place where they can work on their ideas, and feed off each other’s creativity and ingenuity. Capital Factory is no exception. So, get your boots on, Austin entrepreneurs—we can’t wait to see how your growing startup community plays its part in keeping Austin weird.

Posted by John Lyman, Head of Partnerships, Google for Entrepreneurs

See how Doodle 4 Google state winners would make the world a better place—and vote for your favorite

In February, we asked K-12 students across the country to doodle about the one thing they’d invent to make the world a better place—and we were amazed by their curiosity and creativity. For many students, environmental issues were top of mind, resulting in impressive and artistic doodles depicting water and air purification or turning garbage into flowers. Another common theme was really smart robots; they clean up garbage or help students with their homework. Others created possible solutions for solving obesity or eliminating world hunger. And we saw some thoughtful ideas around time travel and goggles that help you see the world from another person’s point of view so you can truly understand them.

From more than 100,000 creative ideas, we’ve selected the best one from each state with the help of our guest judges. Today, we’re celebrating the 50 state winners—little ones just six years old to high school seniors—at their schools from Fort Paine, Ala. to Moorcroft, Wyo., and from Anchorage, Alaska to Plant City, Fla. We’ll reveal the winning artists in front of their classmates, teachers and parents and, in some places, their local mayors or elected officials.

Now it’s your turn to cast a vote for your favorite Doodle. Starting today through May 9, you can go to the Doodle 4 Google site to help select one winner for each age group. On May 21, we’ll host all 50 state winners at our headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where we’ll reveal the five age group finalists as well as the national Doodle 4 Google winner.

Then, for the first time ever, the national winner will get to hang out with our team in Mountain View and animate their doodle. You’ll see the spiffed-up version on our homepage on June 9. For now, don’t forget to vote!

Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead

Providing more CS professional development for K-12 teachers with an expanded CS4HS

For more than five years, we’ve provided free and inexpensive teacher professional development trainings in computer science education through Computer Science for High School (CS4HS). In this program, Google provides funding and support for experts to create hands-on professional development training in CS education for K-12 educators. The goal is to arm teachers with the knowledge they need to help their students succeed in the field. The program has already trained more than 12,000 teachers, and reached more than 600,000 students—and we’ve gotten great feedback over the years (a 95% satisfaction rate!).

It’s been a great success, but there is still much more to do. So this year, we’re taking the first steps toward extending CS4HS across the globe. We’re piloting CS4HS projects in Latin America for the first time—an area where computer science education is often mistaken for computer literacy (think word processing, typing, or changing settings on your operating system rather than robotics or coding a game). We’re also introducing eight new online workshops, so teachers no longer need to be located near a CS4HS event to get quality training.

It’s not just the “where” we’re expanding, but the “when,” as well. We’re now providing new resources for teachers to get ongoing, year-round help. Our Google+ Community page hosts Hangouts on Air with CS industry leaders, Googlers, and top educators on a regular basis. And we’ve added a new Resources page with online workshops, tutorials and information on computational thinking, robotics and more. Finally, if you happen to be in the neighborhood at the right time, sign up for one of our in-person workshops available around the world in these locations:

Posted by Erin Mindell Cannon, Google Education Program Manager

Get Your Business Online Week starts today

Since getting online, Green Mountain Bee Farm in Fairfax, Vt. experienced a 5x increase in sales, and Christine Fitzpatrick Hair and Makeup in Birmingham, Mich. attracted 50 percent more clients. Getting online can make a big difference for small businesses—and stronger businesses makes for stronger communities. Online businesses are expected to grow 40 percent faster and create twice as many jobs as those that aren’t online,* but more than half of America’s small businesses currently don’t have a website.

That’s the inspiration behind Get Your Business Online Week, when we come together with local partners to get businesses in our communities online and growing. Starting today, we’ll broadcast free virtual workshops for business owners, available to anyone with an Internet connection. Here’s a glimpse of what you can look forward to:

  • Conversations with businesses that have prospered online, like Barkbox, GoldieBlox and Dollar Shave Club
  • Step-by-step demos on building a website and getting found on Search and Maps
  • Interviews with small business experts like SmallBizLady Melinda Emerson
  • Workshops on Google tools for businesses (Google Apps, Google Trends, Google Alerts), online advertising (AdWords), and measuring your success online (Analytics)
  • Free help and advice from experts over Helpouts by Google

We’re also teaming up with small business organizations across the country including local chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE chapters to host live broadcasts of our trainings. You can find a screening closest to you on our website.

We’re excited to welcome small business everywhere to join us for this special week. Even if you don’t own a business, we encourage you to take part by spreading the word and inviting your favorite businesses to sign up.

See you on the web!

Posted by Amber Shapiro, on behalf of the Get Your Business Online team

*Source: BCG Report, “The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” March 2012

Encouraging the next generation of journalists: Google Journalism Fellowship Winners 2014

The Google Journalism Fellowship connects students interested in using technology to tell stories in new ways to the organizations that are pushing the boundaries of newsgathering and reporting. Over 10 weeks, Fellows work on projects ranging from building interactive news apps to researching stories, finding data and writing code. In this post, one of last year’s Fellows, Jan Lauren Boyles, shares her perspective on the benefits of the program and what this year’s Fellows stand to get out of it. -Ed.

At first, I thought it was just my imagination.

In the middle of my exams for my doctorate at American University last year, I got a call from the Pew Research Center offering me a Google Journalism Fellowship. Low on sleep, my first thought: “Was this offer all just a reverie, rendered by my foggy mind?”

In some ways, it turned out that that call really was the beginning of a dream.

I had applied for the Fellowship because I wanted to work with the brightest minds in media research and broaden my understanding of the intersections between journalism and technology. I was thrilled to work with leading experts at Pew Research to collect and analyze data that examined how social media is transforming the way Americans consume and share news. I also had a chance to learn from Google’s own mapping and data visualization specialists. But I never imagined we’d also shadow an editorial meeting at The Miami Herald, discuss the future of news with Knight Foundation staff, talk directly with news startup leaders and take part in a design sprint at a CIR/Google conference around data and the news.

The 2013 Google Journalism Fellows. The author is third from the right.

Many of the inaugural class of Google Fellows has gone on to carve out careers in the newsrooms of the 21st century. The Fellowship helped me land a full-time position at the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project as a research associate—a dream job, where I’ll use various research methods—from surveys to content analysis to good ol’ reporting—to help examine how news and information functions today. One key project that I’ll work on this year will be a deep examination of the flow of local news in society today.

Now a new class of Google Fellows gets a chance to fulfill their own dreams. These 11 students are people to watch—young scholars, computer scientists and practitioners who will likely create new journalism products and platforms that will change our engagement with news in the digital age.

This year’s organizations and Fellows are:

Congratulations to this year’s Fellows! We look forward to the energy you’ll bring to the host organizations this summer—and to watching your dreams become a reality.

Posted by Jan Lauren Boyles, Research Associate at Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project