By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma City Curbside Chronicle is the winner of the popular vote in the Google.org Impact Challenge.
Funds received by the organization total $100,000. Google.org granted $50,000 to four organizations, including The Curbside Chronicle, plus the bonus $50,000 for winning a popular vote among the people of Oklahoma City.
A program of the Homeless Alliance, the Curbside Chronicle is the state’s first and only street paper created to provide a voice and employment opportunities for people who are experiencing homelessness.
“We’re so thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Google Impact Challenge, amongst a group of wonderful nonprofits doing meaningful work here in Oklahoma City. We’re blown away by the outpouring of support that the Oklahoma City community has shown our organization and vendors,” said Ranya Forgotson, program director of The Curbside Chronicle at the Homeless Alliance.
“Thank you, Google, for investing in economic opportunities in Oklahoma City. We’re grateful for each and every person who voted in support of our hard-working vendors and for the opportunity to help more people build brighter futures for themselves through dignified work.”
According to a press release, the Curbside plans to expand its print magazine into a multimedia content and e-commerce platform. With the grant, it will raise awareness pf the people struggling with homelessness, reaching new audiences and providing employment to an additional 20 individuals. The Curbside plans to increase its newspaper sales by a projected 20 percent.
“We opened up the vote to Oklahoma City area residents, and we were inspired by the overwhelming response we received,” said Andrew Silvestri, Google’s Head of Community Affairs for Oklahoma.
“Thank you to everyone who voted and rallied behind all four of these outstanding organizations. We look forward to seeing The Homeless Alliance and Curbside Chronicle create new economic opportunities and reach new audiences in Oklahoma City and beyond.”
A post on the Homeless Alliance Facebook page stated, “One of the goals of Curbside has always been to connect people who have homes to those who do not. When people from different backgrounds interact in a positive way, it strengthens our community.”
The Facebook post continued. “Our vendors are the reason Curbside is successful. They are the reason we exist. And we know it is because of the relationship you have with our vendors that we received this honor. We cannot wait to employ more people and empower them to share their stories.”
The organizations also receiving the award are Sunbeam Family Services, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City and ReMerge of Oklahoma County.
The winners were selected by a panel of advisors that included Sam Presti, executive vice president and general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder; C. Michael Carolina, executive director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology; Blair Humphreys, Wheeler District developer; and Aurora Lora, former superintendent for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Google granted a total of $250,000 to Oklahoma nonprofits as part of its Grow with Google initiative.
The Curbside Chronicle will also receive $7,500 as the winner of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits’ Boeing Self-Sufficiency Award. The award is given as part of the annual Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence ONE Awards Gala, which will take place on April 14 at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center, in Tulsa.
The ONE Awards honors a total of 24 Oklahoma organizations in the following categories: arts and humanities, community, education, health services, open services, self-sufficiency, seniors, and youth development.
To learn more about The Curbside Chronicle, visit curbsidechronicle.org.