Flush with anti-Trump donations, ACLU gets Y Combinator’s mentorship

David Kravets
President Donald Trump has been good to the American Civil Liberties—that is, his policies have. The New York-based civil rights group said it collected as much as $24 million in donations over the weekend in response to the president's executive order on immigration.
So what's a nearly century-old civil-rights law firm to do with all that cash? Well, join Y Combinator as a non-profit tech startup—of course—and receive the startup accelerator's mentorship. Y Combinator president Sam Altman announced Tuesday that the ACLU is joining the winter batch of companies, where it will receive guidance and even present to investors.
"The ACLU will have full access to the Y Combinator network and community, and they will present at Demo Day in March," he said. "We are hopeful that the YC community will join us in supporting this important work. In particular, if you're an engineer and want to spend some time helping them out, let us know. We'll keep you updated on opportunities."
Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, told Ars in an e-mail that the rights group hopes to get Y Combinator to teach it how to spread its message. He wants the ACLU to "be at the leading edge of technology."
"Beyond financial contributions, the Silicon Valley community can help organizations like ours harness recent membership surges and spread the word about what the ACLU is doing to protect people’s rights from violations by the Trump administration. Y Combinator and Sam Altman are true pioneers in innovation, and now they’re also pioneers in the defense of civil liberties," Romero said.
Over the weekend, the ACLU sued the Trump administration to block the deportation of people stranded at US airports under the administration's new seven-nation ban. A federal judge on Saturday blocked the deportation of hundreds of travelers across the country.
"Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court," Romero said of the court ruling.
Y Combinator, which will send mentors to the ACLU's New York headquarters, has come under fire because one of its part-time partners and mentor, Peter Thiel, is a well-known Silicon Valley supporter of President Trump. Altman said it would be "dangerous" to break with Thiel.
"Thiel is a high-profile supporter of Trump. I disagree with this. YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee. That’s a dangerous path to start down," Altman tweeted. Over the weekend, Altman urged the tech sector to "take a stand" against Trump's immigration executive order. Trump's order halted refugee arrivals for 120 days, and it banned, for 90 days, citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
The ACLU said the $24 million it got in donations over the weekend was six times its yearly average. Lyft pledged $1 million of that. The ACLU said this weekend's online donations came from 356,306 people.
Flush with anti-Trump donations, ACLU gets Y Combinator’s mentorship Reviewed by Bizpodia on 01:28 Rating: 5

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