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Angel investor Gary Rubens and Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Director Naria Santalucia announce the second annual Geeks Give Back campaign. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)
Angel investor Gary Rubens and Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Director Naria Santa Lucia announce the second annual Geeks Give Back campaign. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

Every year, Washington state’s tech industry adds thousands of new jobs that require a computer science degree — but the state graduates only 500 people qualified to fill them. This bottleneck in the pipeline is creating huge tech talent shortages and stifling innovation in fields from cloud computing to healthcare, and everywhere in between.

That’s why GeekWire teamed up with Bank of America to launch the Geeks Give Back program, which raises funds for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS), supporting students studying STEM in Washington state. Last year, our inaugural campaign raised over $500,000 thanks to the generosity of organizations and individuals in our community.

But this year we’re going even bigger.

At the GeekWire Summit Tuesday, we launched the second annual Geeks Give Back campaign with the goal of raising $1 million to support STEM education in Washington state.

The campaign and the new goal were announced today at the GeekWire summit by Naria Santa Lucia, executive director of the WSOS, and Gary Rubens, a northwest entrepreneur and investor, representing the Rubens Family Foundation.

Seattle has a long legacy of philanthropy and investing in our community, and this year we are asking companies and individuals in our Seattle tech community to pitch in by donating to Geeks Give Back.

Rubens previewed the Rubens Family Foundation’s gift during the announcement today.

“If we can raise $250,000 from the Geeks, I will match it,” Rubens said. All donations will also be matched by the state of Washington, meaning every dollar donated by our community will be quadrupled.

WSOS supports a diverse group of low- and middle-income students studying tech, science, math, and engineering in Washington state, like Rutha Nuguse, who shared her story at during last year’s kickoff, and Jordana Dahmen, who will speak about her experience as a WSOS scholar during the GeekWire Summit Wednesday.

Over half of the scholars that WSOS supports are students of color, almost 60 percent of all scholars are the first-generation college students, and 57 percent of the scholars are female.

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