There’s no doubt that it has been a challenging year for nearly everyone for so many reasons. Happily, the Seattle area is home to numerous hardworking organizations that are using technology in creative and innovative ways to make life better. And GeekWire is here to recognize and celebrate a select few of these groups through our Geeks Give Back Award.

Nominees for the 2021 award share some common goals of working to benefit folks who risk being left behind despite their talent and skills. That includes kids who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC); children who struggle socially due to autism, ADHD or other conditions; and women eager to break into technology or entrepreneurial roles.

Community voting is underway now until April 30 across 13 GeekWire Awards categories in our 13th annual celebration of Pacific Northwest tech. Our readers’ votes will be factored in with feedback from more than 20 judges.

On May 20 we will announce the winners live at the virtual GeekWire Awards, presented by Wave Business.

The Geeks Give Back Award is presented this year by BECU. Past winners for this category include the Year Up and Apprenti training programs, the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and a campaign to end malaria.

For more community impact stories, check out our Impact Series that highlights tech-driven initiatives to solve key social and environmental issues.

Then submit your votes below, grab your tickets and keep reading to learn more about these worthy finalists.

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Ada Developers Academy

Ada Developers Academy is a Seattle-based, tuition-free software development boot camp for women and underrepresented sexual, gender and racial minorities. The nonprofit program provides six months of classroom training followed by a five-month internship at one of its corporate partners. It runs two 48-person cohorts per year and has graduated hundreds of students since launching in 2013. Ada Developers reports that it has placed nearly all of its recent graduates in full-time tech jobs.

Female Founders Alliance (FFA)

Seattle’s FFA is an organization founded by Leslie Feinzaig in 2017 that supports women and non-binary entrepreneurs. Its Ready, Set, Raise accelerator draws startups from around the nation, and each year FFA hosts its annual Champions Awards to celebrate women leaders. The alliance has its own “curated” networking group specifically for founders and a private FFA Investors Circle for venture capital funds and angel investors supporting the community.

Game to Grow

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kirkland, Wash.-based Game to Grow needed to make a quick change. Since launching in 2017, the organization had been assembling small, in-person cohorts of players age 8 to early 20s to play Dungeons & Dragons and other interactive games such as Minecraft and Magic. Game to Grow made the successful transition to online, and is now offering its programs internationally to help young people with autism and other challenges learn to engage socially.

Geeking Out Kids of Color (GOKiC)

This after-school and summer program focuses on bringing STEM education to BIPOC kids in the greater Seattle area. The nonprofit teaches traditional tech subjects such as robotics, web design and machine learning, but in an enriched context that emphasizes and incorporates social-emotional learning, lessons on activism and concepts of empowerment. Founded in 2016, the diverse GOKiC staff has provided instruction for more than 250 kids across 12 programs.

iUrban Teen

Deena Pierott created iUrban Teen a decade ago, growing the program into a nationally recognized STEM+Arts program for underrepresented teens. The nonprofit counts more than 9,000 students as alumni of its events and courses, which Pierott describes as inclusive and culturally centered. The iUrban Teen programming includes all-day tech immersion events to spark interest in STEM, training programs and camps, and mentoring and scholarship opportunities.

A big thanks to our longtime awards presenting partner, Wave Business, for supporting this fun community event. Also, thanks to gold and category sponsors: Blink UX, WSGR, JLL, EYPremera, Dreambox Learning, BECU, WestRiver Group, ALLtech and First Tech Federal Credit Union. And to our silver sponsors BCRA and Kingston Marketing Group. If interested in sponsoring a category or another component of the GeekWire Awards, please contact us at [email protected].