We’re constantly blown away by the efforts of our community to make the world a better place using technology.
GeekWire has been tracking this generous work as part of our Impact Series that is focused on people and organizations finding innovative solutions to societal challenges — and now we’d like to recognize them on the big stage.
At this year’s GeekWire Awards, we’re adding a Geeks Give Back category to honor members of the community who are putting their time and talent toward worthy causes.
Our finalists in this category are Ada Developer’s Academy; Tableau and PATH; Tune; StemBox; and the WTIA’s Apprenti program. Read more about each of them and vote for your pick in the poll below. And a big thanks to Bank of America for sponsoring the Geeks Give Back Award.
We’ve opened voting in several GeekWire Awards categories and we’ll continue to do so over the next 10 days, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks. Check back on GeekWire each day to cast your ballots, and go here to vote in previously announced categories.
All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — on May 4 at the Museum of Pop Culture. Tickets are selling fast, and we do expect to sell out, so make sure to go here to grab yours.
Ada Developer’s Academy tries to narrow the tech gender gap
This year-long, tuition-free training program for women and non binary people is trying to narrow the gender gap, one student at a time. Elise Worthy, Susannah Malarkey, and Scott Case (all members of the Seattle tech community) founded the Ada Developer’s Academy back in 2013 to try and correct the dramatic shortage of women in software engineering roles. Since then, the bootcamp has graduated five cohorts of developers who have gone on to careers at local tech companies. It currently has two cohorts in session, and plans to admit its eighth soon.
Ada is able to offer tuition-free training thanks to corporate sponsors like Expedia, Redfin, Amazon and Zillow. Sponsors also provide internships for students during the second half of the program.
“I hope that in 10, 15 years, these women will be running Google,” Worthy said. “That will certainly help pave the way for more women, and they’ll be magnets for even more women to come in.”
Tableau and PATH fight malaria with data visualization
Though the U.S. has been malaria-free since 1951, it is still a major concern for many countries in the developing world. That’s why two Seattle organizations — global health non-profit PATH and data visualization company Tableau — have launched the Visualize No Malaria campaign, aimed at eradicating the disease from the Zambia by 2020.
The partnership, in cooperation with the Zambian Ministry of Health, uses Tableau’s software and PATH’s data to study and visualize the spread of malaria and come up with effective solutions. Before the campaign, PATH and Zambian health officials were sitting on mountains of data but weren’t able to translate it into insights.
In addition to data visualization software and analysis, Tableau has pledged $100,000 per year to support the work until 2020. Other contributors include MapBox, Twilio, Alteryx, DataBlick, Exasol, DigitalGlobe and Slalom.
Tune opens Tune House for women studying computer science
Seattle mobile marketing analytics company Tune is operating a one-of-a-kind “scholarship” program for women studying computer science. Tune House, an eight-bedroom residential facility near the University of Washington, is currently housing its second round of students rent-free.
Eight women studying computer science at UW, with a demonstrated interest in technology, are selected to live in the house each school year. Tune covers housing costs, weekly groceries, and provides a MacBook to each student for the year. The company calls the Tune House a “scholarship program that, instead of tuition assistance, creates a space, provides resources and establishes a support system for women interested in technology.”
Tune provides mentors for each resident and tries to select a mix of undergraduates with upperclassmen to live in Tune House.
“Our biggest goal was creating a supportive community in the House and having residents at different stages of their studies will help foster an environment where students push and encourage each other,” said Tune Engineering Growth Manager Kristina Linova.
StemBox inspires girls to pursue STEM through subscription science experiments
Kina McAllister, a former research technician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, created StemBox to get more young girls excited about science.
Each month, subscribers get a box with a fun experiment — like dissecting owl pellets or strawberry DNA extraction — for kids. Since launching, 6,600 StemBox have been delivered to 1,400 “Steminists,” according to the company’s website.
“Growing up I’ve always loved science, but finding science kits for girls that weren’t just about soap and makeup was always a struggle,” McAllister wrote on her StemBox Kickstarter page. “Even today we see lots of ‘gross’ and messy science kits marketed for boys in toy aisles and not enough of those science kits in the girls’ aisles.”
WTIA Apprenti program trains women, minorities, and veterans in tech apprenticeships
The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) has an audacious goal: place at least 600 people (primarily women, minorities, and veterans) in tech apprenticeships over the next four years. The WTIA plans to accomplish this through Apprenti, a new program that provides free training for tech jobs through apprenticeships with partner companies.
Microsoft, F5 Networks, and other Seattle-area tech companies have signed on to take apprentices through the program. Apprenti is free for applicants thanks to grants from the U.S. Department of Labor and Washington State Labor & Industries.
Applicants take an online assessment but don’t have to provide any information about higher education beyond a high school degree or GED. The assessment-based application process is designed to encourage people with the necessary competence — like veterans who have gained desirable skills during their service — but may have limited college education or experience.