Google dragged into YES racial exclusion scandal - Solidarity Youth

Initiative finalised in Google Impact Challenge despite being in clear breach of eligibility requirements

Yes4Youth a finalist in Google Impact Challenge despite racial exclusion – Solidarity Youth

Solidarity Youth today sent a letter to the organisers of the Google Impact Challenge, pointing out to them that the widely-discussed Yes4Youth programme excludes people based on the colour of their skin, but that the programme was nonetheless chosen as a finalist in the competition. 

According to Solidarity Youth Coordinator Paul Maritz, the rules, as set out by Google Impact Challenge in Paragraph 2 Rule C, state that a programme is not eligible for the competition if it discriminates on the basis of ethnicity or sexual preference. “However, that is exactly what the Yes4Youth programme does. Yes4Youth already makes it clear during the registration process that young white unemployed persons cannot be accommodated in the programme and in that they are not even permitted to register,” Maritz said. 

In its letter to the organisers of the Google Impact Challenge, Solidarity Youth states that it is important to work towards a non-racial society that includes people and not excludes them based on their skin colour. “This sentiment was reiterated in Parliament by Pres Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 November. Consequently, Solidarity Youth was shocked to discover that the Yes4Youth programme, as set out in the Government Gazette, won’t include white people,” Maritz explained. 

“Solidarity Youth therefore believes that the Yes4Youth programme stands in direct contrast to the spirit and the rules of the Google Impact Challenge programme because it does not comply with the requirements of non-racialism,” Maritz said. 

“All we are asking, is for things to be on an even keel and that people should not be judged on the basis of their race. Should the Google Impact Challenge find that the Yes4Youth programme meets their requirements, we would like an explanation from them. And if the programme does not meet those requirements, the Yes4Youth programme should be disqualified as a finalist, Maritz concluded. 

To see the rules of the Google Impact Challenge, click here
To read Solidarity Youth’s letter to the organisers, click here.


Extracts from Google’s rules:

2. ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible to enter the Challenge, your Organization must meet the criteria listed below (“Eligibility Criteria“):

(a) be a legally registered South African business or nonprofit;

(b) suggest a project with a clear charitable purpose, as determined by Google and/or Google’s donor advised fund, the Tides Foundation (“Tides“), in their sole discretion;

(c) not discriminate against any person or group of people in either hiring/employment practices or in the administration of programs and services, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnicity;

(d) agree that if you receive an Award, it will not be used for religious instruction.

6. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: Your Organization’s Application must meet the following Application Requirements:

(a) It must not be derogatory, offensive, threatening, defamatory, disparaging, libelous or contain any content that is inappropriate, indecent, sexual, profane, indecent, tortuous, slanderous, discriminatory in any way, or that promotes hatred or harm against any group or person, or otherwise does not comply with the theme and spirit of the Challenge.


Text of the letter:

9 November 2018

Google South Africa
Golden Oak House
Bally Oaks Office Park
35 Ballyclare Drive
[email protected]

To: Google South Africa


1. Solidarity Youth is part of the Solidarity Movement, and has more than 4 000 members. Our membership comprises of students, young people that are employed, as well as young job-seekers.

2. On behalf of our members we would like to commend Google on the Google Impact Challenge Initiative. Given South Africa’s plethora of problems, initiatives that inspire creative solutions are always welcomed and encouraged.

3. South Africa, that has a painful past filled with racial discrimination, needs non-racial solutions for our current problems. To that end we commend Google on stipulating in the rules that no discrimination against persons or groups of persons on ethnicity or sexual orientation will be allowed in the administration of any of the programs as part of the eligibility criteria.

4. Youth unemployment remains one of South Africa’s biggest problems. In March 2018 the Youth Employment Service (YES) was announced as a means of addressing this massive problem. This move was widely welcomed as a means of getting young, unemployed South Africans into the economy.

5. It is therefore with great sadness and shock that Solidarity Youth took note of the Yes4Youth initiative that is only open to young, unemployed South Africans of a specific race in October of 2018. The Youth Employment Service explicitly excludes young, white, unemployed South Africans from the program.

6. As South Africans, we need to be serious about the spirit of non-racialism, as articulated by president Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament on 6 November 2018. It is in this spirit that Solidarity Youth has started a campaign against the Yes4Youth initiative – urging them to open the program to young unemployed South Africans of all races. Unemployment knows no race, and desperate, young, unemployed, white South Africans are also part of the youth unemployment problem and should thus be part of the solution.

7. Given the discriminatory nature of the Yes4Youth initiative, we found it surprising that Yes4Youth is a finalist in the Google Impact Challenge for South Africa.

8. Government Gazette 41866, in which the Yes4Youth initiative was tabled, explicitly states that an applicant must be Black, Indian or Coloured under the definition of the 2003 BEE Act, to be eligible for the program.

9. This is further exacerbated on the Yes4Youth website itself, where you are blocked from registering if you indicate that your race is different than Black, Indian or Coloured. An error message tells you to use another website. An image is included here which was captured from the site:

10. To our knowledge, this means that the Yes4Youth initiative is in direct contravention of the rules regarding eligibility for the Google Impact Challenge.

11. In the document titled Google Impact Challenge: SOUTH AFRICA OFFICIAL RULES, under the eligibility requirement, paragraph 2 subsection (c), it states:

(c) not discriminate against any person or group of people in either hiring/employment practices or in the administration of programs and services, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnicity;

12. Since the Yes4Youth initiative is currently a finalist in the Google Impact Challenge, this implies that the Yes4Youth initiative successfully passed the first round of judging.

13. This would imply that the application of the Yes4Youth initiative was deemed as having met all the application requirements, including the non-discriminatory requirement contained in the eligibility criteria.

14. We ask that you review the Yes4Youth initiative’s eligibility for participating in the Google Impact Challenge South Africa – given the fact that the initiative does indeed discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity in the administration of the program.

15. If you find that your initial assessment of the Yes4Youth initiative’s eligibility was correct, we would then ask that you clarify the rules regarding the competition; to include the fact that discrimination based on race or ethnicity is allowed as part of the eligibility criteria.

16. If you find that the initial assessment of the Yes4Youth initiative’s eligibility was incorrect, we would then ask that you remove this initiative as finalist in the Google Impact Challenge South Africa, since the program does not comply with the eligibility criteria as stipulated in the official rules.

17. Since the voting for finalists in the Google Impact Challenge closes on 25 November 2018, we ask that you refer back to us with your chosen course of action by 15 November 2018.

Yours faithfully

Paul Maritz

Coordinator: Solidarity Youth

[email protected]


Statement issued by Paul Maritz, Co-ordinator: Solidarity Youth, 9 November 2018