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Jordana Dahmen speaking about her experience as a Washington State Opportunity Scholar at the 2016 GeekWire Summit. (Photos: Dan DeLong for GeekWire).

We were a bit nervous earlier this year when we set a goal with our partners at Bank of America to raise $1 million for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship as part of our Geeks Give Back campaign.

After all, that was double last year’s goal.

But the technology community rallied in a big way, generously supporting the next generation of engineers, researchers, doctors and scientists in Washington state.

We’re excited to announce today that the second annual Geeks Give Back campaign blew past the $1 million goal, tallying a whopping $1.27 million. Among the companies who supported this year’s campaign: Alaska Airlines, Bank of America, The Boeing Company, Costco, Hanson Consulting, Microsoft and many others.

“Washington State is now the nation’s per-capita leader in STEM employment, but our students are not the ones filling the STEM workforce,” said Naria Santa Lucia, executive director of WSOS. “The Opportunity Scholarship is helping fix this disconnect by making higher education, which is prohibitively expensive for many students, attainable for talented, high-potential students.”

This marks the second year that GeekWire and Bank of America have partnered on the Geeks Give Back campaign, raising funds for STEM education between Oct. 1 and Dec. 7th.

“We are delighted to be able to partner once again with GeekWire to support WSOS. Their commitment to providing access to the much needed funds for women and students of color to study STEM is critical to filling our state’s workforce pipeline with homegrown, diverse talent,” said Kim Vu, Puget Sound Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Bank of America. “And every individual and company that made a donation to Geeks Give Back is helping close the opportunity gap, moving barriers for students to access pathways towards higher income jobs that will not only move them towards economic mobility, but also lift their families in the  process.”

A big thanks to everyone who donated this year, and a huge shout out to Seattle area investor and entrepreneur Gary Rubens who matched up to $250,000 of the donations.

Investor Gary Rubens announces his matching support for Geeks Give Back at the GeekWire Summit 2016, along with WSOS director Naria Santa Lucia.

WSOS supports a diverse group of low- and middle-income students studying tech, science, math, and engineering in Washington state. Over half of the scholars that WSOS supports are students of color, almost 60 percent are the first-generation college students, and 57 percent of the scholars are female.

Need more proof of the amazing impact of WSOS? Watch this video of WSOS recipient Jordana Dahmen who spoke at the 2016 GeekWire Summit in October to kick off the campaign, and is now looking to pursue a PhD in biomechanics.

 

“Spring of my senior year, I stared at my acceptance letter to WSU,” Dahmen told the crowd. “The harsh reality set in: there was no way that my family or I could afford for me to go to college. About a month later, I received an email saying that I had received the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, and it was like I had found the golden ticket.”

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