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From Linkbait to Donate: Valleywag Post + Bay Area Charity Pairings

So, Nu Valleywag is basically over, but the outrage reads (and actual investigative tech journalism) were fun while they lasted, no? Last year, I compiled a list of Bay Area nonprofits themed by recent Valleywag posts and I thought I'd send off our favorite Silicon Valley gossip rag with a sequel. Here are the 14 most recent Valleywag posts, paired with relevant local organizations. Close out this spectacularly shitty 2014 with a rage gift dedicated to your least favorite tech story!

Confirmed: Snapchat Turned Down More Than $3 Billion Last Year: This was, almost certainly, a Bad Business Decision. Thankfully, there are organizations you can contribute to who are helping much more worthy folks make better decisions. The Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center provides training, mentorship and financing assistance to very low- to moderate-income Bay Area residents starting their own businesses, with a special focus on women, people of color, and formerly-incarcerated individuals. AnewAmerica offers similar services to immigrant and refugee communities. Maybe you're less concerned by Snapchat and its fratty founders in particular and more horrified at the bigger picture of where these funny-money numbers are coming from and going to? Consider donating to Oakland's Democracy at Work Institute to support the cause of worker-owned cooperatives in the U.S., or the Sustainable Economies Law Center working to strengthen the legal basis of community resilience and local economic empowerment.

Zillow Accused of Subjecting Female Employees to "Sexual Torture" and Suit: Zillow Says Women Over 40 Are "Too Old to Close," "Can't Keep Up": These lawsuits paint a picture of a straight-up horrific working environment for women at Zillow. It's thanks to Equal Rights Advocates' 40 years of work protecting the economic and educational rights of women, girls and working families that this kind of mistreatment is even illegal. Sadly, it's clear there's still a ton of work for the civil rights organization to tackle.

These Letters Reveal Which Congressmen Google Has In Its Pocket: Honestly, this one scares me. I don't know what to do about the rapidly growing influence of money in our political system. One of the few things that gives me hope is seeing successful community organizing make tangible political changes. Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth has been giving working class youth and parents of color in San Francisco the tools and support to organize and lead political action for over 35 years. (Hat tip to @ReninaWrites for this selection.)

Blue Bottle, Which Raised $45 M, Cut Health Benefits for Part-Timers: Part-time workers comprise an increasingly large portion of the employed in this country yet enjoy almost no workplace protections. Just this month, though, San Francisco adopted a groundbreaking Retail Workers' Bill of Rights that bans abusive scheduling practices commonly applied to part-time workers. That bill and others, including the new $15 minimum wage, was championed by Jobs With Justice SF, a coalition of local labor & community groups.

Clinkle Is Bribing College Students With a Vending Machine Full of Cash: Of course desperate Clinkle headed to a college campus to bribe prospective customers--college is expensive! Both Summer Search and ScholarMatch provide low-income Bay Area high school students with comprehensive social, community and financial support to get to and then succeed in college.

Tech Companies Stoke Fears of a Talent Shortage to Get Cheaper Labor: Look, we need immigration reform in this country. But we also need to be wary of rich businessmen bearing dubious gifts. Some reasons why the tech industry's push for expanding the H-1B visa program is shady:

  • It doesn't provide a path for skilled immigrants to make a permanent home in the U.S. Upwardly Global connects educated & skilled refugees & asylum seekers with the preparation and employer access they need to integrate into the U.S. workforce and put their sorely needed skills to work.
  • It doesn't help the millions of hard-working undocumented immigrants currently in our country whose sweat and blood power many industries, including tech company's physical campuses. The San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network, a coalition of 13 immigrant service providers and legal advocacy organizations, provides free legal assistance and education to low-income immigrants from African and Afro-Caribbean, Arab, Asian, and Latino communities. The network is a project of Dolores Street Community Services, which also runs the immigrant-centered fair labor programs The SF Day Labor Program and La Colectiva. I highly recommend them if you need day laborers or house cleaners--I'm not just a blogger, I'm also a satisfied La Colectiva customer!
  • Finally, it's disingenous to proclaim a talent shortage when the tech industry has systemically excluded untold numbers of smart and capable potential American tech workers who happen to be people of color. 80% of The Stride Center's students are people of color, and an overwhelming majority of graduates from their technical certification & internship programs go on to well-paying IT jobs.

Airbnb Thinks It Should Win the Nobel Peace Prize and Airbnb Had Housing Activists Pushed Into a "Free Speech Zone": This one is easy--Tenants Together and the SF Tenants Union have worked tirelessly for years to protect tenants' rights in the Bay Area and California, including working directly to prevent San Franciscans from being evicted to turn housing stock into short-term vacation rentals. Another organization working hard to keep residents in their homes and communities intact is Causa Justa :: Just Cause, which fights Black & Latino displacement in the Bay Area on multiple fronts.

List of Salaries For Interns Who Can Code Will Burn Your Eyeballs: The $7500 plus housing stipend that each Amazon or Pinterest college intern makes could support a whole lot of 19-20 year olds. Maybe one of those gilded kids feels like sending some of that cash to Larkin Street Youth or First Place for Youth. Larkin Street houses and provides comprehensive care for homeless young adults; First Place helps foster kids who've aged out of the system find and keep housing, education, and employment.

Fab May Sell for a Pittance While Ex-Founder Abandons Fab-Like Startup: Oh nooooo, will our walls go sadly bare with the failure of these home decor startups? Not if Creativity Explored has anything to say about it! Their programs & studio provide developmentally disabled adults with the support and materials to create art and professionally exhibit it. You can donate directly but you don't want to miss their exhibitions and gallery sales, which give you the opportunity to purchase gorgeous art pieces that both decorate your home and help the artists support themselves financially.

Billboards of Semi-Nude Brogrammers Are Lining Silicon Valley: These expensive ads are sexist, heteronormative, and just generally a stupid attempt to joke on the old saw that "sex sells". Meanwhile, workers who actually sell sex are stigmatized and marginalized. SF is proud to support St. James Infirmary, a clinic for sex workers run by sex workers providing compassionate and free medical, psychological, and emotional care. Shout out to Maggie for this idea; she recommends Sex Workers Outreach Project as another cool sex worker-centered organization.

Male Startup Founders Think Your Vagina Should Smell Like a Ripe Peach: If this was a plotline on Silicon Valley, you'd think it was too heavy handed: two male investors erase a woman founder from her own reproductive health startup in order to misrepresent her work as a pill to make women's vaginas smell, as Nitasha puts it, "like a Bath & Body Works at an outlet mall." Let me be really clear here: healthy vaginas smell amazing. If you're experiencing strong smelling vaginal discharge that could be the result of an infection, or pathological disgust for female anatomy that's damaging your enjoyment of sex, the kind and educated volunteers at San Francisco Sex Information's phone and online hotline can help. Your donation will help them continue to provide "free, confidential, accurate, non-judgmental information about sex" (including training for health care professionals) that so many still so desperately need.

Will Facebook Really Let Its Bus Drivers Unionize?: The answer so far seems to be yes: the drivers voted to join the Teamsters and the company Facebook contracts with has agreed to negotiate a contract with the union. Instead of charity, let's give our fellow tech industry workers solidarity as they fight to secure themselves a living wage and fair working conditions.



The picks from last year are, of course, just as worthy today and I encourage you to check them out if you haven't already. No repeats in this one but my mother told me I'd be in deep trouble if I didn't plug her excellent organization TNDC again--so hi, mom!

Where are you donating and volunteering in 2015?