Have you heard of the Google.org Impact Challenge? It’s a project by Google that aims to reward social entrepreneurs, NGOs, nonprofit organisations, and local innovators whose work has a positive impact on the world. This is a challenge for ideas even more than projects: the Google.org Impact Challenge claims to reward each idea’s potential with appropriate funding and a comprehensive package of all-round support. The contest’s latest edition awarded grants to 29 projects, four of which hail from Italy. This year’s challenge focused mostly on cybersecurity and the fight against bullying and hate speech. These are the four Italian grantees for this year.
Google.org Impact Challenge: 4 Italian startups among the winners
Osservatorio Nazionale Adolescenza
The ONA is a national organisation whose main goal is to monitor and research issues that are peculiar to teenagers and young adults and to provide supports to young people and their families through delicate junctures. Their project for online security was among the 29 winners of the Google.org Impact Challenge. The program aims at educating both children and their families, to prevent online grooming. It involves informative material designed to teach children and parents how to spot the earliest signs of dodgy online behaviour and to implement protocols to protect kids both on the internet and in real life. The team working on this project comprises child psychologists, therapists, and professional online communicators.
Mama Chat was born on the premise that the first step to ending violence against women is to listen to the victims. This new chat service works as an online anonymous counseling service for women, girls, and mothers. The operators are instructed to listen and trained to provide useful directions to women wanting to escape abuse or any other kind of potentially dangerous situation. The service is free and it does not collect any personal detail. Mama Chat was created by Acmos, an NGO that also collaborates with CIFA on another of the winning projects of this year’s Google.org Impact Challenge.
Hate speech is affecting all layers of society and its consequences spread far wider than the universe of online interactions. There are far too many examples of it seeping into the political discourse and poisoning the public debate both on and off social media. For some people, it translates into actual, physical danger, for others it can do potentially incalculable psychological damage. CIFA is an Italian NGO working to better the living conditions of children in need and protecting their fundamental rights. They work with international adoptions and have recently launched a new project specifically targeting hate speech. Under the hashtag #IoRispetto (“I respect”), CIFA is working with ACMOS to build the first Italian centre for the tracking and monitoring of online hate speech. The project is among the 29 grantees of the Google.org Impact Challenge.
Fondazione Mondo Digitale
Last but not least a grant was won by Fondazione Mondo Digitale, a non-profit organisation responsible for creating the Social Hosting Hub – an educational platform that integrates local projects and online teaching to fight cyberbullying. The foundation and its partners want to create a comprehensive educational ecosystem combining in-real-life experiences and online interactions, offering both kids and adults the necessary tools to defend themselves against online abuse.
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