Houston Food Bank, March of Dimes, Black Girls CODE and Stop Soldier Suicide among 20 winners of AWS grants for nonprofits

AWS said 20 organizations will get either $150,000 or $30,000 in funding as well as access to technical specialists.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

AWS announced the 20 winners of the 2021 Imagine Grant for nonprofits, with organizations from across the world receiving either $150,000 or $30,000 in unrestricted funding.

The 10 winners of the "Go Further, Faster" award -- which provides recipients with $100,000 in AWS promotional credits and engagement with AWS technical specialists alongside the $150,000 -- include Houston Food Bank, American Forests, The Barnes Foundation, charity: water, Community Organized Relief Effort, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation and EB Research Partnership, The Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, Project CETI and Special Olympics USA.

The winners of the "Momentum to Modernize" award -- which includes $30,000 in unrestricted funding, up to $10,000 in AWS promotional credits and project implementation support -- are Black Girls CODE, ACT, Easterseals Serving DC|MD|VA, International Association of Fire Fighters, Jacaranda Health, March of Dimes, New York Philharmonic, Stroud Water Research Center, United Way Worldwide and Stop Soldier Suicide. 

"AWS was incredibly inspired by the innovative thinking we saw in the applications received this year. All of the nonprofits share a commitment to solving some of our world's biggest challenges," said Dave Levy, vice president of nonprofits, healthcare and US government at AWS. 

"We look forward to collaborating with our grant recipients to help them build and reinvent new and existing cloud-based solutions that will make a meaningful impact on communities worldwide."

This is the fourth year that AWS has run the Imagine Grant program and the company generally awards organizations using cloud technology as they seek to address a critical problem. More than $4.5 million has been given out to 46 different nonprofits over the last four years. 

For the first time, AWS has split the awards into two distinct categories and sought to provide deeper support to organizations based on how they use technology. The larger award was targeted toward organizations that are more technologically advanced while the smaller award was for enterprises early in their technology journey. 

AWS judged the proposals based on an organization's stated goals and potential outcomes. The company noted that more than 35,000 nonprofits already use AWS in some capacity.

One of the awardees, Stop Soldier Suicide, told ZDNet that it plans to modernize its mission applications and enable real-time identification of service members and veterans at high risk for suicide. They hope to provide immediate, barrier-free access to life-saving interventions for service members who may be at risk. 

Stop Soldier Suicide chief growth officer Tina Starkey said the AWS grant will allow them to further streamline multi-channel client care, providing a seamless experience for both their clients and Wellness Coordinators. 

"Services such as Amazon Chime, Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Connect will enhance our ability to meet clients at the time of their choosing, in the channel of their choice. At the same time, the integration of AWS services into our call center will provide real-time insights into client risk while providing Wellness Coordinators with seamless access to case history data during client sessions," Starkey said.

Starkey explained that the US loses more than 6,000 veterans to suicide each year. For years, data has shown that veterans are at a 50% higher risk for suicide than those who haven't served, she added. 

"Our goal is to reduce the military suicide rate by 40% no later than 2030, with 'no later' being a key part of that phrase. We're constantly pushing for the ability to reach our goal faster, thus saving more lives in the process. In conjunction with a council of many of the nation's leading suicidologists, we've developed a cutting-edge program service model used to provide consistent, confidential, and trauma-informed care to U.S. veterans at highest risk for suicide," Starkey told ZDNet

"AWS is playing a tangible role in life-saving work with one of the most underserved communities in the mental health arena by improving our capability to deliver services without relying on self-disclosure or a suicide gesture. Our clients are not often forthcoming about their suicidality for a multitude of reasons, so having tools that analyze their risk without candid self-disclosure is vital. This collaboration with AWS will improve identification of suicide risk, expand services targeted to that risk, support risk reassessment, and improve identification in downward trends in client suicidality."

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