Michigan Nonprofits and the Googlers Who Love Them

Thursday, April 16, 2009 | 7:28 AM

I've been a Michigan resident for almost 20 years and have worked for Google in Ann ArborMichigan, for two years. The landscape has changed before my eyes, both physically and economically. It seems that nothing has hit Michigan harder than the recent troubles facing Detroit's automotive industry. 

Despite these troubles, or perhaps because of them, it's easy to spot promising initiatives within our community. These bright lights are non-profit organizations that power through the trying times and aim not only to put some life back into our economy, but to grow the next generation of Michiganders into creative, thoughtful and socially conscious adults. 

826michigan is one of these bright lights in our Ann Arbor community. While attending the University of Michigan, I spent some time volunteering with this organization. On its website, organizers explain that they "are dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write." I'll also add that the way in which they support students is free and, equally as important, fun!

In college, I helped 826michigan with various projects and volunteered at odd hours. But after graduating and finding a job, it became more difficult for me to find time to man their Robot Supply & Repair Store (a clever storefront facade that camouflages the tutoring sessions that happen in the back) and support their in-school initiatives. I didn't realize at the time that I might be able to marry aspects of my new job to the nonprofit initiatives I cared about - and then I discovered Google Grants. 

When I first started at Google, I was awed and inspired by the company's dedication to non-profit work. Google highlighted ways we could participate in our local communities, coordinated weekend volunteer off-sites and offered non-profit organizations free advertising through Google Grants. Like most Googlers, I had a heart for non-profit work and couldn't wait to get involved with Google Grants. 

It came full circle earlier this year when organizers from 826michigan approached me to ask how their organization might forge a closer relationship with Google. I introduced them to the Google Grants program, and they immediately applied. Google Grants opened the door for me to reconnect with my favorite local organization in a significant and meaningful way. And who knows? Maybe I'll find a couple hours on the weekend to sell spare robot parts.

Posted by Elyse Guilfoyle, Ann Arbor AdWords Team