Just over two years ago, I wrote here that we were taking a broad approach to philanthropy under the umbrella of Google.org. Today Google.org shared its game plan, announcing five core initiatives to help combat climate change, global poverty and emerging threats such as pandemic disease. These initiatives draw upon Google's strengths in access to information and scalable technology. We'll use a range of approaches including grants, investments in for-profits and advocacy, and will continue to tap the experience of Google engineers and other team members.

We're working alongside experienced partners to carry out these initiatives. For example, one of the initiatives is aimed at improving the quality of delivery of basic services, such as education or clean water. In rich countries we take it for granted that clean water comes out when we turn the tap, and our children learn to read when they go to school. But in many countries in the developing world, essential public services are not working, especially for the poor. Governments are investing huge sums -- to the tune of $700 billion -- to provide basic services, but the lack of two-way information flow inhibits the effectiveness of delivery and the ability of communities to hold providers accountable. The Inform and Empower initiative explores ways to bridge that gap. One of our partners is Pratham, a non-governmental organization (NGO) in India that creates the ASER Report, a yearly nationwide survey on education outcomes. Their 2005 report provided data for the first time on basic reading and math skills for children in rural India. The report seeded a national conversation between governments, NGOs and private providers about the state of education and served as a catalyst for change. Our support will help expand their work to other sectors and potentially to other countries.

Please visit Google.org for more information on Inform and Empower and the other initiatives announced today.