TikTok pledges $250M in COVID-19 relief efforts, plus another $125M in ad credits

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Short-form video app TikTok announced today it’s committing more than $250 million to support front-line workers, educators and local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an additional $125 million in advertising credits to public health organizations and businesses looking to rebuild. Some of these funds are being directed toward major health organizations, like the CDC and WHO, while other funds are aimed at helping individuals or smaller businesses.

The $250 million includes three separate efforts: the TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok Community Relief Fund and TikTok Creative Learning Fund.

The first is the most significant effort, as it provisions $150 million in funds for things like medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for healthcare workers. Included in these distributions is $15 million to the CDC Foundation to support surge staffing for local response efforts through state and local governments, and $10 million for the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. 

In addition, TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, said its employee matching program will deliver aid to organizations like the Red Cross and Direct Relief.

TikTok also said it’s working with global and local partners to deliver masks and other personal protective equipment to hospitals in India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea and the U.S., among others. Earlier this month, TikTok announced it had donated 400,000 hazmat medical protective suits and 200,000 masks to protect doctors and front-line medical staff in India, for example.

The TikTok Community Relief Fund, meanwhile, is focused in particular on vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19.

This effort involves allotting $40 million in cash for local organizations that serve representatives of TikTok’s user community — including musicians, artists, nurses, educators and families. The fund has already been used to donate $3 million to After-School All-Stars, which is providing food for families who had previously relied on school lunches, and $2 million for MusiCares, which supports artists, songwriters and music professionals whose livelihoods have been disrupted.

As a part of the Community Relief Fund, TikTok will also be matching $10 million in donations from its community.

The third effort, TikTok’s Creative Learning Fund, will provide $50 million in grants to educators, professional experts and nonprofits working on distance learning efforts. TikTok sees itself as a potential home for creative remote learning efforts, but didn’t announce any specific plans on this front.

Outside of the funds themselves, TikTok is extending ad credits to health organizations and SMBs.

The company is providing $25 million in prominent “in-feed” advertising space for NGOs, trusted health sources and local authorities, allowing them to share their important messages with millions of people, it said. Other major tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, have done the same on their own platforms.

TikTok noted it has worked to spread educational information in other ways, as well, having hosted live streams from representatives of WHO, IFRC and other popular voices in public health and science, including Bill Nye the Science Guy. There’s also a dedicated section in TikTok with other resources: the COVID-19 Resources Page on TikTok’s Safety Center. And it has partnered with creators on campaigns like #HappyAtHome, which airs live programming at 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT on Fridays and has other themed experiences planned during weekdays.

TikTok will also offer $100 million in advertising credits to small and medium-sized businesses trying to get back on their feet in the months ahead. This effort hasn’t yet started, as it will depend on the decisions made by public health authorities about the re-opening of businesses, the company explained.

“We understand that these are challenging times for everyone,” wrote TikTok president, Alex Zhu, in an announcement. “Alongside businesses, governments, NGOs, and ordinary people across the globe stepping up in this critical moment, we are committed to offering the very best that we can to help out humanity. Together, we will persevere through this time of crisis and emerge a better community and part of a world that we fervently hope will be more united in common purpose than it was before,” Zhu added.