Today is Seattle Foundation’s 1-day GiveBIG challenge. Seattleites will compete for $500,000 in matching donations for their favorite local charities.

I’m really excited. Why? Some very worthy causes will get serious love today. And, it’ll show off Seattle’s electrifying intersection of technology and philanthropy. Expect your Twitter to light up like a 1985-vintage DeLorean strung out on 1.21 gigawatts.

Though a few local tech titans have put Seattle philanthropy on the map — Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, Jeff Bezos’ 10,000-year clock — I feel the world belongs to the man in the arena, the ones crazy enough to believe they can change the world, the ones who’ll fly into the asteroid field, yelling “Never tell me the odds!”

There is a new generation of hard-headed idealists emerging, one that thinks just as much about revenue models and acquisition channels as they do about curing malaria or fighting poverty. There is a quote that’s been on every Vittana business plan since founding, from our first napkin sketch:

“Ridiculing idealism is shortsighted, but idealism without the rigors of pessimism is misleading. We need very hard-headed idealists who can look into the worst and best of humanity and can create and implement strategies of success.” — UN Millenium Project

On the eve of the GeekWire’s big Seattle 2.0 Awards bash, I’m excited to see Seattle become a hub for our very own hard-headed idealists: techies and startup geeks borrowing the best of business and philanthropy to change the world — scalably, sustainably and impactfully.

Kushal Chakrabarti

Take Marc Nager at Startup Weekend for instance, revolutionizing entrepreneurial education through 54-hour entrepreneur bootcamps. Or, Digvijay Chauhan and Scott Oki, combining rich story-telling with technology to make a truly human connection on SeeYourImpact. Or, ex-Amazon executive David Risher at Worldreader transforming illiteracy by getting every child an e-book. Or, ex-Microsoft honcho Will Poole turning venture philanthropy upside down with Social Innovation Fast Pitch.

Tomorrow, we’ll all get together at the amazing Experience Music Project to highlight the best of Seattle’s startup community. Someone very worthy will win Do Gooder of the Year (I have my favorite, but it’s a secret).

When the winner walks on stage though, whoever it is, take a moment to take it all in: we’re a city at the leading edge of a revolution — a revolution that’s combining business, technology and philanthropy to change the world.

Kushal Chakrabarti is the co-founder and CEO of Vittana, a Seattle non-profit that helps those in poverty gain access to education. Vittana, a past recipient of the Best Non-Profit at the Seattle 2.0 Awards, is celebrating its third anniversary today. 

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