Tech for Good: Spotlight on Three Organizations Making a Difference at the GeekWire Awards

The 2023 Geeks Give Back honorees

The 2023 Geeks Give Back honorees radiating joy in the photo booth during last year’s awards in Seattle. This year promises to shine a spotlight on a fresh batch of exceptional talents at the May soiree. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Isn’t it incredible how technology, when channeled towards the greater good, can transform lives and knit communities closer? The Pacific Northwest is a shining testament to this truth, housing a remarkable cluster of organizations and visionaries propelling the world towards a brighter tomorrow with their tech-centric endeavors.

And guess what? It’s that time of the year again! We’re gearing up to toast to three standout initiatives at the 2024 GeekWire Awards, spotlighted as the Geeks Give Back honorees. Intrigued? Let’s dive in!

BECU Geeks Give Back 2024 Nominations

Stealing the limelight this year are Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s Coding for Cancer, blending teens’ passion for computing with groundbreaking biomedical research; Housing Connector, a beacon of hope for renters navigating the tumultuous seas of housing insecurity; and TrueMedia, a vanguard challenging the tide of political disinformation with its AI-sharpened sword against deepfakes.

Loud applause to BECU for presenting the Geeks Give Back category, a gesture that resonates with their commitment to community upliftment.

Now, let’s scale our curiosity up a notch and explore these phenomenal contributions making the Pacific Northwest the epicenter of technological philanthropy.

Coding for Cancer: A New Frontier for Tech-Savvy Teens

Coding for Cancer program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer CenterHanako Osuga leads the charge on the Coding for Cancer program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, a pioneering initiative bridging computational skills and cancer research for high school students. (Fred Hutch Photo)

Imagine infusing teens’ coding prowess into the fight against cancer. That’s what the Fred Hutch is propelling forward with their Coding for Cancer program. This initiative isn’t just about programming; it’s about opening a doorway for youthful minds to the boundless possibilities of tech in biomedicine.

With a format that runs virtually for four weeks during the summer, it proliferates beyond borders, reaching even the most remote corners, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility. The program is not just teaching; it’s empowering, with substantial stipends and support for those lacking technological resources. Picture this: a student without any prior coding experience embarks on this journey and emerges equipped with newfound skills, ready to tackle college with a broadened perspective.

Housing Connector: Paving Pathways to Home

An apartment building in SeattleAn apartment building in Seattle. The Housing Connector is making strides in addressing the city’s housing crisis by creating avenues for vulnerable renters. (Sightline Institute Photo)

In a city where securing a roof over one’s head can feel like a herculean task, Housing Connector emerges as a beacon of hope. This nonprofit wears the hat of a matchmaker with a twist, aligning landlords with vacant units and renters, who are often sidelined due to imperfect rental histories, in a bond that promises mutual benefit.

Through initiatives like partnership with Zillow for an Affordable Housing Search Tool, and a toolkit of assurances and support services, Housing Connector not just reframes narratives around housing insecurity but actively contributes to nurturing healthier, safer communities. Their expansion across cities signifies the scalability and adaptability of their mission, a commendable feat indeed.

TrueMedia: The Sentry against Disinformation

TrueMedia deepfake detection exampleA plunge into TrueMedia’s world: A graphic insight into their process of sifting through the web to detect manipulated images. (Screenshot from TrueMedia)

As we edge closer to the 2024 elections, the specter of disinformation looms large. Enter TrueMedia, armed with AI to ward off the destructive swath of deepfakes skulking through the digital realm. Positioned as a digital sentinel, TrueMedia blends state-of-the-art detection technologies with the resolve to safeguard truth and integrity online.

With a rollout plan placing critical tools in the hands of journalists and fact-checkers before opening it up to the broader public, TrueMedia isn’t just reacting to the threats; it’s preemptively strengthening the fortress of factual discourse. Spearheaded by tech luminary Oren Etzioni and backed by philanthropic visionaries, TrueMedia stands as a testament to the potency of collaborative, nonpartisan efforts in preserving the sanctity of truth.

As we warm up our applause for the upcoming GeekWire Awards, let’s not forget the broader picture these initiatives paint: a portrait of optimism, where technology serves as both the brush and palette in crafting a better tomorrow. Ready to be part of the celebration? Secure your spot now and join us in championing these inspiring tales of innovation and community upliftment!

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