Y Combinator has a history of backing nonprofits, and today it has selected an organization that’s old — but very relevant in today’s society — to get behind. The startup program has announced that it’ll be supporting the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), adding the nonprofit to the roster of companies participating in its latest accelerator class.
“The ACLU has always been important, but has a particularly important role right now. We are honored to be able to help, and we will send some of our team to New York for the rest of the batch to assist,” Y Combinator president Sam Altman wrote, explaining the decision. As part of the relationship, the ACLU will be able to tap into the extensive network and community Y Combinator has, as well as presenting at the demo day scheduled in March.
The selection comes as the ACLU does battle with the Trump administration over the immigration ban enacted by executive order. On Saturday, the ACLU successfully requested a stay of that directive, allowing many of those detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be freed. The organization also raised a record $24 million in donations over the weekend.
Kat Manalac, a spokesperson for Y Combinator, told VentureBeat that she originally reached out to the ACLU on a project she’s working on around civic tech. Turns out the lobbying and activist group was looking for help on a project of its own, and Y Combinator and the ACLU discussed the benefits of participation in the startup program. Manalac said that not only will her organization be donating, but some team members will be assisting the ACLU personally.
Previous nonprofits that have received Y Combinator’s generosity include Watsi, Zidisha, Bayes Impact, CodeNow, CareMessage, Noora Health, One Degree, The Immunity Project, The Detroit Water Project, DemocracyOS, and 80,000 Hours.
What will investor and staunch Trump supporter Peter Thiel — a part-time partner at Y Combinator — think about this, we wonder?