Last month, Google confirmed that it’s joining the growing data center hub in Sarpy County with the announcement of a $600 million center.

Now, the tech giant wants to help fund Nebraska nonprofits with innovative ideas — to the tune of $1 million., the company’s philanthropic arm, announced Wednesday that it would award five state nonprofits $175,000 each, along with training to help ensure the success of each project.

The Impact Challenge Nebraska asks organizations to submit proposals with “bold ideas to grow economic opportunity in their local communities,” according to a release.

This is the company’s first Impact Challenge in Nebraska. Examples of past winners in other states include programs that have helped previously incarcerated people rejoin the workforce; found economic opportunities for refugees; and increased digital literacy skills for job seekers.

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After the five winners are announced in the spring, the public will vote for one of them to receive an additional $125,000.

Dan Harbeke, Google’s regional head of external affairs, said the challenge is a way to pair the company’s expertise and resources with organizations that help local communities.

“You see so many organizations that have these really good, ambitious, bold ideas, but they don’t necessarily have the funding, or they don’t have the strategic thought — they don’t have some of those resources that we might be able to bring to bear to help actually get (the project) lifted off the ground,” Harbeke said.

Winning projects, Harbeke said, will be those that are innovative and feasible and have enough reach to create an impact on the local economy.

The winning nonprofits will be selected by Google officials and a panel of local judges consisting of business and civic leaders.

The announcement was made Wednesday during a daylong series of digital literacy training sessions at the South Omaha Library. The “Grow with Google” workshops offered training to small businesses, nonprofits and job seekers in Omaha.

Interested nonprofits can apply online. Applications are due Dec. 13.

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Reece covers Sarpy County for The World-Herald. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL grad who spent time in Oklahoma and Virginia before returning home. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127

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