Google has committed $11.5 million in grants to organizations working to reduce racial inequalities in the criminal justice system, the company’s charitable arm announced Thursday.
The donations are intended to improve transparency surrounding police bias in departments across the country. Google says one of the biggest obstacles to fair policing is a lack of nationwide data surrounding officers’ practices and local court systems. The largest grant, $5 million, will go toward the Center for Policing Equity (CPE), which created the nation’s first database to track national statistics on police behavior.
Google engineers will also volunteer with CPE to build on its National Justice Database, the company said.
Another $2 million in grants will go toward organizations collecting data on disparities in California court systems. Measures for Justice, which is working to create a web-platform detailing how local justice systems treat people, based on their race or ethnicity and their offense history, will receive a $1.5 million grant.
In total, Google’s charitable arm will donate to 10 organizations, including ones focused on keeping youth out of the justice system. Google.org Principal Justin Steele said in a blog post Thursday that the goal of the grants is to ensure people are treated equally under the law, regardless of race.
“Videos of police shooting unarmed people of color have woken many of us up to the impact that racism and internalized bias have on black and brown communities,” Steele wrote. “But we have almost no data on police behavior and criminal sentencing at a national level.”
In addition to the grants, Google employees are also volunteering their time for social justice movements, Steele said. A group in the company created the Black Googler Network, which offers mentorship programs and pushes the company to be more active in organizations like #BlackLivesMatter.
Steele, whose grandfather, father, and uncle were actively involved in Seattle-area law enforcement, said he used his own experiences to identify organizations for Google.org to work with.
“The Black men in my family were all engaged in some form of law enforcement, and throughout my lifetime, I’ve seen law enforcement officers be a force for good in communities,” Steele wrote. “But I’ve also borne witness to injustices that have shaken my faith in our criminal justice system”
Thursday’s commitment more than doubles the $5 million in donations Google.org has made to nonprofits working to improve racial justice since 2015.