Google CEO at announcement of Grow with Google at Bakery Square. Maker Nisha Blackwell on screen. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Google chose Pittsburgh to make some major announcements today and brought in its top guy to do it. At a press conference at Bakery Square, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, announced Grow with Google, “free training, tools and events to help grow skills, career or business.” Pichai also announced a program of $1 billion in grants globally for nonprofits, along with a $10 million partnership with Goodwill and a million volunteer hours from Google employees to help Americans prepare for the tech-centric jobs of the future.

“I remain a technology optimist,” Pichai told a large gathering that included Gov. Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto and PA House Speaker Mike Turzai. “At Google, we believe information is for everyone.”

Grow with Google‘s aim is to level the playing field to help anyone learn new skills, advance their careers or launch a business. Users will be able to access products, resources and trainings via the Grow with Google website ( and in-person trainings in cities across the country with the Grow with Google tour. The first stop on the tour is Indianapolis on Nov 10-11th. 

Google will give out $1 billion in grants and programs globally to nonprofits to help people prepare for the changing nature of work, said Pichai. He noted that “less than half of 18 to 25 year-olds believe that education gives them the skills they need in today’s workforce.”  The grants will be awarded over the next five years. In addition, Google is committing one million employee volunteer hours to help groups working on these issues.

Pichai also announced Google’s largest-ever grant, $10 million, in support of Goodwill Industries. They’ll offer tech training for 1.2 million people at Goodwill locations across the country. As Pichai noted, 80 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a Goodwill store, which offers job training and workforce development programs to help people find jobs.

Another initiative, specifically for Pittsburgh, announced at the event was the Impact Challenge where Pittsburgh nonprofits will be invited to submit “their most innovative ideas” for a shot at grants. Four finalists will be chosen by a panel of advisors, and receive $50,000 each plus other support. Also, the Pittsburgh community will be able to choose a winner of the “most impactful idea,” which will receive an additional $50,000. Applications will be open in early November. (Enter your email here to stay updated.)

“We don’t have all the answers,” said Pichai. “But the people closest to the problem tend to be closest to the solution.”

To train and certify more IT professionals, a new IT Support Professional Certificate will be created — and recognized by massive companies like Bank of America, PNC Bank and Google itself. There will be 2,500 scholarships for it awarded across the country, including 100 in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh office will stay involved in all the volunteer work.

“Our hundreds of employees work on problems that have a global impact,” said Lauren Dickey, the Pittsburgh-based program manager for Google Shopping. A Pittsburgh native, Dickey’s father directed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

“Fred Rogers taught children to care about our neighbors,” she said. “Today, after this, I’m going to Goodwill to help people with their resumes and job skills.”

See also: The two Pittsburgh companies Google chose to showcase in videos

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.