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Naria Santa Lucia, executive director of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, with WSOS board member Gary Rubens, who is matching donations made through the Geeks Give Back campaign.
Announcing Geeks Give Back at the GeekWire Summit in October: Naria Santa Lucia, executive director of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, with WSOS board member Gary Rubens, who matched donations made through the Geeks Give Back campaign.

Geeks Give Back. It’s a philanthropic campaign that GeekWire hosts each year, as well as a definitive statement about our particular breed of reader. You are geeks — and boy, did you give back this year. Let me explain.

GeeksGiveBack-logoThis year, in partnership with Bank of America, GeekWire focused on raising money for a cause that is near and dear to the tech industry – science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. We looked at training the next generation of STEM workers – the doctors, researchers, engineers, and developers that are crucial to not only the success of the tech sector but to our state overall.

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Recipient Rutha Nuguse speaks at the 2015 GeekWire Summit.
Washington State Opportunity Scholarship recipient Rutha Nuguse at the GeekWire Summit. Watch here.

We found an organization already tackling this issue in the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS). WSOS provides scholarships to students studying STEM subjects in colleges all over the state. More than half of the scholarship recipients are women. Many are students of color. And most are the first person in their families to attend college. These are very smart and deserving students who can afford to attend college because of the WSOS scholarship.

This righteous cause deserved a heady goal. Together, GeekWire and Bank of America set our sights on raising $500,000 for the WSOS. We knew the state of Washington would match every dollar we raised. What we didn’t know, at first, was that Seattle super angel Gary Rubens would step in and do the same — up to $125,000. We set to work contacting GeekWire’s corporate readers. Many of them stepped up and gave big. Our thanks goes out to Microsoft, Madrona Venture Partners, the Seattle Sounders, Perkins Coie, Chef, Fuel Talent, MOZ, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, PicMonkey, and New Tech Seattle.

Mahdi Ramadan, Washington State Opportunity Scholarship recipient, tells his story at the GeekWire Summit.
Washington State Opportunity Scholarship recipient Mahdi Ramadan at the GeekWire Summit. Watch here.

The giving didn’t stop with corporations. Hundreds of our individual readers gave to the cause. You did it in person at events like the GeekWire Summit, Opportunity Knocks breakfast, and at New Tech Seattle. You clicked through our online sponsor posts and the Hopela app. We learned this year that our geeks are truly generous. Together, with matching funds, we raised $547,652.

Thank you, geeks for your generosity and for helping worthy students transform their lives. We know that in just a few years many WSOS graduates will be working at your companies, helping to change our community and the world.

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Representatives of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, Bank of America, Hopela, New Tech Seattle and GeekWire gather this week to mark a successful Geeks Give Back campaign. L-R: Irina Menn, Hopela; Jonathan Sposato, GeekWire; Erin Ashley, WSOS; Kim Vu, Bank of America; Daniel Rossi, GeekWire; Naria Santa Lucia, WSOS; Gary Rubens, investor and WSOS board member; Megan Nelson, WSOS; Anthony DiBlasi, Bank of America; Kimber Connors, WSOS; Todd Bishop, GeekWire; Theresa Britschgi, WSOS; Brandon Yu, WSOS; and Red Russak, New Tech Seattle.

“Bank of America is thrilled to have been a part of the Geeks Give Back campaign, surpassing our goal and raising $550,000 to provide local women and students of color with scholarships for higher STEM education,” said Kim Vu, Puget Sound Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Bank of America. “Working together with GeekWire, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, corporate donors and committed philanthropists like Gary Rubens, and YOU – the GeekWire community – we’re effectively addressing deficits in our homegrown STEM workforce and giving diverse students opportunities to gain access to higher paying career pathways.”

We want to give a special thank you to Gary Rubens for his unique brand of generosity. And finally, thank you to Bank of America, whose partnership made this year’s Geeks Give Back campaign possible.

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