There are many milestones worth celebrating in Yelp’s 10-year history, but one that’s close to my heart is the creation of the Yelp Foundation. In 2011 Yelp’s board established the Yelp Foundation with one percent of company equity to support community literacy and small business growth, initiatives that are imperative for local economies to thrive.
I’m pleased to announce that this year, the Foundation plans to give $1 million to charity, including grants of up to $100,000 to nonprofits in addition to the Foundation’s Yelp employee donation matching program. This year’s grant recipients include:
La Cocina (San Francisco, CA)
Oakland Leaf Foundation (Oakland, CA)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (Washington, D.C.)
Defy Ventures (New York, NY)
Literacy Partners (New York, NY)
Local First Arizona (Phoenix, AZ)
Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ)
Accion (Phoenix, AZ)
Make Way for Books (Tucson, AZ)
Urban Think Foundation (Orlando, FL)
The Yelp Foundation accomplishes its charitable goals by making grants to very deserving nonprofits throughout the US, as well as encouraging charitable giving by matching donations made to charities by Yelp employees, up to $1,000 per person, per year (a tradition it will continue for 2014).
In its first two years, the Foundation matched Yelp employee donations to give a combined total of more than $100,000 to nonprofits each year. The Foundation also created an annual grant program that awarded $400,000 to several charities in 2013.
Determining which organizations will receive a grant is no small task. To find the right mix of nonprofits that actively embody the Foundation's mission, we called upon Yelp employees to lend a hand.
Internal "champions" who felt strongly about the work of a particular nonprofit presented a case to fellow employees at their offices about why that nonprofit should receive a grant from the Yelp Foundation. Based on those presentations, Yelp employees voted on which groups seemed most deserving of a grant, and the Board of Directors at the Yelp Foundation considered those votes before making their decision.
Fortunately, the impact of this trust fund continues to multiply, thanks to Yelp’s decision to make philanthropy a priority early on by funding the Foundation through a gift of Yelp stock. As the value of Yelp stock increases, the resources available to the Yelp Foundation also increase. So while it started small, the Foundation currently has more than $30 million in assets, which allows it to make substantial grants each year.
We know the Yelp community is passionate about these causes as well, so the Foundation is planning volunteer events that will give community members and Yelp employees the opportunity to get involved with these organizations and donate their time (while having a blast, of course!). Stay tuned for more details on the Yelp Blog, or check each organization’s website for individual volunteering opportunities.