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Alexander Diaz: Empowering Nonprofits to Develop and Deploy AI Solutions

Alexander Diaz: Empowering Nonprofits to Develop and Deploy AI Solutions


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Alexander Diaz, the head of AI for social good at Google.org. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Hi Alex, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is Google.org addressing?

Alex: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges by combining funding, product donations, and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunities for everyone. I lead our team’s efforts around artificial intelligence (AI) for social good, where we focus on empowering nonprofits to develop and deploy AI solutions that enable them to better achieve their missions and ensure nonprofits and those they serve have access to the benefits of AI.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Alex: I’m the son of immigrants and grew up in a working-class community in New Jersey. I’ve had a front-row experience of struggle, often due to systems and policies not designed with my community in mind. It’s an exciting time in AI development, but we need to make sure that people, especially vulnerable communities, are seeing benefits as well. The chapters ahead are just being written—it is a blessing to work alongside other leaders to write the inclusive future we deserve.

Spiffy: That’s inspiring! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Alex: Google.org is one of the largest corporate funders of AI for social good. To date, we have contributed more than USD 200 million and over 160,000 pro-bono and volunteering hours (equivalent to 6,667 days) in support of the responsible use of AI, expanding the impact of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and helping build an ethical, safe, and robust AI ecosystem. Our grantees report being able to achieve their primary goals in almost a third of the time, at half of the cost, when we’ve funded them to apply AI to their work.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone/initiative by you or your org. What impact does that make?

Alex: We’ve been focused on using the power of AI to accelerate progress against the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We launched a USD 25 million open call to fund projects that advanced progress towards the goals and announced 15 grantees at the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting. We also worked with the UN Statistics Division to launch the UN Data Commons for the SDGs platform—a publicly available tool that tracks metrics across the 17 SDGs and can facilitate data-driven strategies for further action.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Alex—it’s been an honor!

Alexander Diaz leads the AI for social good team at Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm. Through this role, Alex manages Google’s philanthropic efforts to empower nonprofits to develop and deploy high-impact AI applications that address critical global challenges and ensure the benefits of AI reach marginalized populations. As a Rhodes Scholar, Alex received a Master of Public Policy and a Master of Financial Economics at the University of Oxford. Alex graduated from Harvard College Phi Beta Kappa with the highest honors in psychology. Alex has been named in Forbes’ list of 30 Under 30 for Law & Policy. The son of Dominican and Cuban immigrants, Alex was raised in Union City, New Jersey. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 1, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.