Google.org awards Red Cross $250K grant to better prepare for next big disaster

Topics: National, Our Impact on the Ground
March 30, 2017

Canadian Red Cross volunteer speaks to a beneficiary

A pilot project to expand and improve the existing Canadian Red Cross post-disaster digital assistance platform has received a big boost from the Google.org Impact Challenge.

As one of the of the top 10 finalists of Canada’s first Google.org Impact Challenge, the Canadian Red Cross has earned a $250,000 grant to build a better way of responding to disasters, providing aid quickly to those in need.

“To have the chance to compete in the first ever Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada was a great privilege for us,” said Susan Larkin, Canadian Red Cross Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships and Community Engagement. “It was inspiring to hear from each finalist about how they plan to make the world better with their project. We’re so glad to move forward with Google to ensure we can continue to improve how we deliver aid quickly the next time a major disaster happens in Canada.”

The support from Google.org will help take a pilot project developed in the days following the Fort McMurray region Wildfire and scale it so it’s ready for the next big disaster. The program registers those affected, shares critical information about how to respond, and quickly delivers financial assistance into the hands of Canadians when they need it most.

In addition to helping the Red Cross respond to an emergency, the improved digital assistance platform will enable the Red Cross to quickly assist up to 500,000 Canadians during a single catastrophic event in the most efficient and effective way possible.

“As we saw during the Alberta Wildfires response, Canadians in danger will flee to wherever they feel the most safe – and these days that could be to be with family and friends across the country,” said Madeleine Lyons, Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management Senior Advisor. “When the next major disaster strikes, an advanced digital assistance platform will help us effectively deliver humanitarian assistance to those who need it, wherever they might be,” added Lyons, who presented the Canadian Red Cross project to the panel of judges.

The Red Cross sees digital assistance solutions as the key to quickly assisting the majority of Canadians, providing them with information and financial assistance such as electronic fund transfers, and freeing up resources to focus on assisting the most vulnerable people.

When complete, the improved digital assistance platform will be scalable and useable by Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in other countries.

From over 900 entries, the Red Cross was one of 10 charities to be selected as a finalist of the first Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada. Winners were selected on March 30, 2017 by a combination of public votes and an expert panel of judges.

"We had huge expectations for what Canada could deliver as part of this Challenge, and these projects exceeded even those high expectations," explained Sam Sebastian, VP, Google and Country Director, Canada. "Canada's capacity to deploy innovative technology in the service of social challenges is truly something to behold."

Thank you to all the Canadians who voted for the Canadian Red Cross to win this acclaimed award!