Inspirational, innovative groups find support and cash for causes through Social Venture Partners

Technology

Geeking Out Kids of Color (GOKiC) co-founder Fernando Sanchez, far left, and GOKiC volunteer Priscila Angula, far right, working on data science with students. Sanchez and Angula are both Microsoft software engineers. (GOKiC Photo)

Pedro Ciriano Perez doesn’t like to call his nonprofit’s approach to teaching computer science “unconventional” — but Geeking Out Kids of Color (GOKiC) definitely has a different strategy.

To open the door to technology to kids who are black, Hispanic, Muslim and other underserved races, ethnicities, religions and genders, GOKiC has a unique philosophy. “We focus around racial equality and gender first,” said Perez, “and from there we’ll teach out.”

Over the past three months, Perez and GOKiC has been one of 21 nonprofits and businesses focused on social good in Seattle’s Social Venture Partners (SVP) Fast Pitch cohort. The program helps participants refine their message, work with mentors and connect with peer organizations. On Saturday, 11 finalists from the program will pitch their enterprises to a live audience, competing for grants and prizes totaling more than $100,000.

GOKiC didn’t make the final cut, but will be part of the Innovator Expo and Reception following the pitches. Other cohort members with a tech connection include the Seattle chapter of Techbridge Girls and Elixir, a nonprofit that helps people who are uninsured due to finances or undocumented status find healthcare through an app.

“I’d never met people before who were just going out and trying their ideas and making a difference in the community,” said Marium Raza, Elixir’s founder and a sophomore at the University of Washington. “While it is a competition, the cohort is more of a community and learning from people and learning from people’s journeys.”

Perez said the program helped him focus his message, making it easier to find partners and raise dollars to support GOKiC, for which he is the executive director and a co-founder.

The program started holding classes last spring and targets kids in third-to-eighth grades, adding first- and second-grade programs next month. During the school year, they hold three-hour after-school classes once a week at community centers located south of Seattle in SeaTac, Burien and White Center. Women and racial minorities in the tech sector teach the classes. Some 200 kids have participated in GOKiC programs.

GOKiC summer camp kids set robots to work cleaning up “pollution” dispersed across Western Washington. (GOKiC Photo)

In a camp this past summer, the kids painted a …read more

Source:: GeekWire

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