It’s that time of year again. With the passing of January into February the 9th Annual Crunchies are almost upon us.
Next week, on February 8, some of the best minds of our generation will descend bedecked, bedazzled, and (some of them at least) bespectacled on San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House for one of San Francisco’s biggest bashes to celebrate the tech community’s achievements.
Winners will receive one of the much coveted, never duplicated, Crunchies in 12 categories, and today we’ll be taking a look at the finalists for perhaps my personal favorite category — Biggest Social Impact of 2015. This award goes to the organization that has made the most impact on society at large during the year.
Nominees range from a technology-focused nonprofit accelerator program, an initiative teaching and promoting coding across the U.S. and a group dedicated to applying technology to ending child sexual exploitation to the impact investment arm of the world’s most valuable company.
So without further ado (but with much ballyhoo) here are the nominees for the organization that had the greatest social impact.
The 2015 Nominees
Code.org is the nonprofit founded by the serial entrepreneur and investor Hadi Partovi back in 2013. The organization is dedicated to increasing access to computer science with a special focus on elevating the participation by women and underrepresented students of color in computing. Partovi and his fellow travelers share a vision that every student in every school should be able to learn computer science.
For years, the Google.org team has been on the vanguard of the technology community’s efforts to make the world a better place. Each year, the folks at Google.org donate $100,000,000 in grants, 80,000 man hours and $1 billion in products to groups engaged in everything from stamping out human trafficking, to helping refugees, to increasing access to computer science education, and eradicating ebola.
Operating to do good at startup speed, Fast Forward is an accelerator, fellowship program and clearing house for information on how to fund, create and manage a technology-focused nonprofit. Companies that have come out of the accelerator program include an on-demand food donation service (Copia); Nexleaf Analytics, which leverages smartphones, cell phones and ubiquitous sensors to make data collection easier in emerging markets; a college sexual assault reporting tool called Callisto; and Stellar, which aims to use the blockchain to make money transfer as easy as emailing.
Freada Kapor Klein & Mitch Kapor
Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor are inarguably two of the most successful early-stage investors in Silicon Valley. Their successes are legendary and the work they’re doing now with the Kapor Center for Social Impact could be just as impressive. Boasting a team that includes former NAACP chairman and chief executive Ben Jealous, the Kapor Center is working to improve educational access to technology and computer science, increase the diversity of the tech community, and foster and create technologies with a profound social impact.
In a case of the stars aligning against the profound, persistent problem of the global exploitation of children, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore founded Thorn to use technology to combat an issue that technology has actually made worse. According to the organization, the Internet is, itself, the largest marketplace for buying and selling children in the U.S. Thorn marshals the resources of the tech community through partnerships with some of the largest tech companies to rid the Internet, and the country, of child exploitation.
First introduced at the 5th Annual Crunchies in 2012, whoever wins the Biggest Social Impact award will be filling some pretty big shoes worn by some storied companies and amazing individuals.
Twitter – A Two-Time Winner
For its role in revolutions from Cairo to Kiev and social movements like #BlackLivesMatter, Twitter has long been a force for social change. Though it may be on the ropes now, the messaging service has occupied a seat at history’s table, often playing the role of first witness to events that have gone on to shake and shape the world.
Reddit – The People’s News
If Twitter is a technological counterpart to Ernest Hemingway’s rough draft of history — pithy, short, direct (give me a minute… it’ll make sense) — then Reddit (another winner) is its James Joyce-style stream of consciousness. The true wisdom (or folly) of the crowd is on full display every day in Reddit’s community of users posting about the flotsam, jetsam and icebergs that shape the 24-hour Internet news (or hype) cycle.
The Snowden Revelations – The Heart Of The Privacy Debate
For better or for worse, Edward Snowden has become the face of the global debate over civil liberties and security. Through a series of blockbuster revelations taken from government files he harvested from top secret servers for years, Snowden showed just how deeply the global security apparatus of governments had penetrated our private lives. His efforts changed policy, threw a spotlight on practices that the men pulling the levers of power would have rather kept in the shadows, and showed just how exposed we all are to the prying eyes of the state.
It’s a lofty group of compatriots that the newest Crunchie winner will join. The next person to get a seat at this illustrious table will be announced at the 9th Annual Crunchies on February 8, and you’re definitely going to want to be there in person.
Tickets to the show are still available starting at $115, but hurry because prices will increase at midnight PT tonight for the event that’s best described as the Oscars of Startups and Technology on our ticketing page.
And take note: In past years there have been long lines to get into the Crunchies. We’re fixing that by opening the doors earlier and adding lots more ticket scanners. It is also easier than ever to get a drink with an enormous bar on the lower level next to Best of Startup Alley!
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