Improving education outcomes: Local partnership aims for more Google Challenge dollars

San Mateo County urges voting to get Google funds for kids' summer learning

The Big Lift, a large-scale partnership between San Mateo County and more than 200 private, public, and nonprofit partners, whose goal is to improve children's educational outcomes in the county, could get a $250,000 boost from Google to support summer learning programs. However, the partnership needs votes.

A top 10 finalist in the Google Impact Challenge –'s annual grant competition that will this year shell out $5 million to 25 Bay Area nonprofits, plus provide advising and co-working space – the Big Lift has already demonstrated its mettle in competition with this year's more than 800 applicants, according to an announcement.

In reaching the final round, The Big Lift initiative has already gained $250,000, but if it receives enough votes from the public by Oct. 20, it will receive additional funding. If the Big Lift rakes in enough votes to place in the top four, it will receive a $500,000 grant, and if it ranks between fifth and 10th place it will receive a $250,000 grant.

In particular, the Inspiring Summers program will work to boost reading proficiency by third grade. According to the county's announcement, only 42 percent of San Mateo County children can read proficiently by the third grade. The Inspiring Summers program is designed to prevent learning loss among underserved populations county-wide.

The Big Lift was launched by the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council (PPLC) and is led by three agencies: San Mateo County, the San Mateo County Office of Education and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

It has raised $28 million in initial funding, according to its website. These agencies will work with its more than 200 partner organizations to implement its "Inspiring Summers" campaign, aimed at improving children's education through summer learning.

Among these partners are Menlo Park organizations such as the Belle Haven Community Development Fund, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, the city of Menlo Park, Menlo Park City Elementary School District, Menlo Park Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. The full list can be found at the Big Lift's website.

Supervisor Carole Groom, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, urged community members to consider submitting a vote. "Each vote is one step closer to securing the ability to boost the skills of that many more children," she said.

To cast your vote or check out the other contenders, go to the Google Impact voting site.

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