Facebook kicked off the new year by showering 42 nonprofits in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto with a total of $200,000 in grants, according to company officials.
The financial largess is part of a deal the social media company struck with the city of Menlo Park last year in exchange for permission to almost double the number of employees on its main campus at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road.
Although Facebook originally promised to create a $500,000 foundation, Susan Gonzales, the company's head of community engagement, said Monday that it kicked in an extra $100,000 for a total community donation of $600,000.
"We were pleased by the response," Gonzales said, adding that more than 100 community groups applied for the funding. "We decided in order to address a lot of the requests we'd add $100,000 to help celebrate the launch of the fund."
Menlo Park Council Member Kirstin Keith, who is on the Facebook Local Community Fund board and participated in the grant allocation discussions along with East Palo Alto Council Member Laura Martinez and several Facebook employees, said it was "fantastic" to be able to give out the money.
"These are really needy organizations who will helpfully change people's lives," Keith said.
The grants, which range from $2,500 to $5,000, will help support everything from youth programs to food distribution to small business aid to school clothes for homeless kids. Organizations were notified about the grants last week, Gonzales said.
Felicia Matthews of A Better Way Foundation in East Palo Alto said the $5,000 grant will make a world of difference for the three-year-old nonprofit and the at-risk kids it serves. The organization hopes to use the money to create an after-school technology program, she said.
"This gives us an opportunity to see what we can do," Matthews said.
Last month, Facebook's 28-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg announced he was donating $500 million in stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to support health and education causes.
Keith said Menlo Park is fortunate to have Facebook. "I look around and I don't see other corporations doing this," she said. "It's pretty amazing."
The next round of funding will be distributed in June, according to Gonzales. Interested nonprofits are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about the Facebook Local Community Fund and the grant program.
Email Bonnie Eslinger at email@example.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.
Facebook's new foundation gave a total of $200,000 to 42 nonprofits in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto
A Better Way
Bayshore Christian Ministries
Belle Haven Community Foundation
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse
East Palo Alto YMCA
Ecumenical Hunger Program
East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring
East Palo Alto Kids Foundation
Eternal Life Church
Fit Kids Foundation
Foundation for a College Education
Free at Last
Girls to Women
Kiwanis Club Foundation
Latino Community Foundation
My New Red Shoes
New Creation Home Ministries
Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center
Peninsula Family Service
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
Riekes Center for Human Enhancement
Rosener House Adult Day Care
Saint Francis Conference of St Vincent de Paul
Sojourn to the Past
St. Francis/Khan Academy Youth Club
Teen Talk Sexuality Education
Youth Community Service
Source: Facebook ___