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Tech Cares Winners Donate $4000 for Social Good

By Sara Isenberg
Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Santa Cruz Tech Beat

March 24, 2016 — Santa Cruz, CA

Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County announces who will receive Tech Cares donations from HACK UCSC 2016

Although Hack UCSC 2016 took place in January, there was still another step remaining in the process to determine who would receive the Tech Cares donations. Meetings were held and decisions were made, and now the results on who receives the $4000 have just been announced. But, first, the backstory…

Over 550 developers, designers and entrepreneurs gathered January 29 – 31 on the UCSC campus to participate in Hack UCSC 2016. These students tackled a variety of projects and competed for a multitude of prizes for the best app developed over that weekend. The categories of competition this year included:

  • Innovation: projects that approached a problem with a unique technical solution
  • Tech Cares: social entrepreneurship projects that focused on solving social, agricultural or environmental issues
  • Labor Tech: projects that help companies improve working conditions

This was the second year that Hack UCSC included Tech Cares, the category that was created to encourage social good. Thanks to a sponsorship from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, the winners of the Tech Cares category were able to donate a total of $4,000 in grants directed to the nonprofits of their choice in addition to prizes awarded in the hackathon.

“Tech Cares shows there is significant interest in doing something for social good,” Hack UCSC co-founder Mark Adams said. “It’s kind of like it’s flipping the script on how people view the tech world.”

Approximately one-third of all hackathon teams participated in Tech Cares.

Tech Cares winning teams make choices of donations to nonprofits

First-place team Gotcho Back chose the following two organizations for its donation:

  • $1,000 to YWCA Watsonville
  • $1,000 to Warming Center

Gotcho Back is a mobile application timer which can be set to send an alert to an emergency contact if the user doesn’t reach a destination during a programmed period. The user can shake the phone at any time after the timer is set to send an alert before the time period expires. The Gotcho Back team members are: Tiffany Luong, Richard Pham, and Ryan Shee, all UC Santa Cruz undergraduates.

Second-place team FBSecure chose:

  • $1,000 to Electronic Freedom Foundation

FBSecure encrypts Facebook messages in the send process and unencrypts for the message recipient, keeping them secure in the transfer process. The FBSecure team members are: Ray Chen, Cole Faust, and Peter Herniman, all UC Santa Cruz undergraduates.

Third-place team OnWatch chose:

  • $1,000 to Digital Nest

OnWatch is a Pebble Watch app that sends distress signals to loved ones with the Pebble Watch wearer’s GPS coordinates. OnWatch team members are: Juan Cardozo, Jerry Ku, Anthony Pan, Garrett Stoll, and Weibin Zhong, all UCSC undergraduates.

The sponsorship of Hack UCSC by Community Foundation Santa Cruz County has helped to raise awareness of the nonprofit community in Santa Cruz County as well as promoted the need for social good through our local tech community. Judging from the positive response to Tech Cares by the student participants, they are paving the way for future philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

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