SXSW 2016: Dewey Award winners apply tech to social problems

Dewey Award Winners 2016

On Friday, the White House called the tech community to action, asking them to apply their skills and innovations to social and civic causes to make the world a better place.

On Sunday, we met 10 people from across the world who are doing just that.

The 2016 SXSW Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards honored these social innovators at its annual event. The Dewey awards really are the epitome of the best of what SXSW can offer, so it’s always been a mystery as to why this event isn’t better attended. The format allows each honoree to tell their story — not just their mission, but what they had to overcome or go through to make their work happen. It’s Inspiring with a capital I.

We attended the event, as we do every year, just for that shot in the arm. (GivingCity actually received a Dewey Award in 2011, so we also feel a sense of camaraderie with the honorees.) You can learn more about all 10 projects here, but we got a chance for a quick interview with three of the innovators.

Cancer CommonsMarty Tenenbaum, PhD

Cancer Commons, an online network of physicians, scientists and patients that provides treatment recommendations from experts based on clinical trial results. “There’s a huge gap between what cancer doctors know and what everyone else knows. We think we can help half the people with cancer just by using drugs that already exist. So far we’ve helped 1,000 people. We want to scale so we can help 10,000 people this year.”


Dewey AwardsPriya Verma strives to engage children, young people and women in the major issues of the day that affect them. “We use content to help people understand issues like women’s empowerment, child labor and the environment and then tell them to join the movement to make it work.”



Dewey AwardsMarissa Jennings
Socialgrlz is the first mobile web publishing company creating content specifically for African-American girls. “Right now, when you do a Google search for Black girls, the images you get back are not positive. We want to change that story. We let girls build a community where they can see other girls and women who look like them in more positive roles.”


Read more of our 2016 SXSW Interactive coverage here.

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