Facebook has pledged to give a sizable sum to help their local community as part of the tech giant’s philanthropy endeavors. Plans for affordable housing, job training, and legal support are going to be the foundation of the partnership between Facebook and other community groups.
In an announcement made by Facebook, Inc. Vice President for Public Policy and Communications Elliot Schrage, the for-profit corporation promises to help communities near their Menlo Park HQ that have been their home since 2011. An initial $20 million will be spent on research and planning to solve the area’s affordability housing problems.
Facebook Philanthropy: Response to Community Needs
As stated in the announcement, the move they made is in response to what the community “needs most urgently.” They also hope to attract more community groups, companies, and philanthropies to take part.
Since the problem is too complex to solve alone, the new partnership gets extended hands from organizations that share their goals, such as:
- Youth United for Community Action
- Community Legal Services located in East Palo Alto
- Comite de Vecinos del Lado Oeste – East Palo Alto
- Faith in Action Bay Area
- East Palo Alto and Menlo Park local governments
The new partnership of the social media company’s philanthropy plan has three pillars, according to Schrage.
1. Affordable Housing Plans
The biggest chunk of the grant will be allocated to the Catalyst Housing Fund that will get $18.5 million, which will be established to create a fund focused on researching plans and solutions to solve the housing crisis. Thus, no – it will not be spent for construction efforts.
However, the housing crisis that the Silicon Valley is experiencing is far more complex than just the ballooning price of rent and mortgage. Hence, it makes sense for Facebook to allocate their money on research instead.
Additionally, $250,000 will head towards Rebuilding Together Peninsula to support low-income and vulnerable residents in renovating and building homes.
2. Job Training
The partnership will cover $625,000 for the training of jobs in the science and tech fields to help locals find decent-paying jobs in the region. Facebook also says they are “establishing a dedicated local community liaison” to help residents find available positions at Facebook.
3. Support in Legal Terms
While the community is facing a major housing crunch, Facebook acknowledges that they are aware the Catalyst Fund will take some time before the completion of new units. For the meantime, $500,000 is given for legal support to residents who are “facing particularly difficult circumstances.”
They are those who need immediate help as they are in danger of getting displacements from evictions or those who are under dangerous living conditions and whatnot.
Bay Area Community Housing Crunch
Facebook’s philanthropy effort comes as a response to problems of the community where the company’s headquarters are nested. It is worth noting that Silicon Valley is also home to Google, Apple and other large technological firms.
With more job opportunities in the area comes an influx of people looking for jobs. The quick rise of population coupled with the shortage of new housing resulted in the rise of rent and mortgages in the community. This means only high-income earners are able to afford to live in the area while low-income earners have no other choice but to relocate where they would have to commute more than 50 miles for work.
Some people question the motive behind Facebook’s philanthropy work since there are those who think Facebook only responded after the social media company received intense criticism for not helping low-income residents in the Silicon Valley.
Nonetheless, Facebook’s move to come together with the local city government and nonprofits that are geared towards helping low-income community members is a step in the right direction. And hopefully, it is just a start for more tech tycoons to follow.
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