February 23, 2011

Twitter Co-Founder Pushes New Effort to Use Technology for Social Good

The Twitter co-founder Biz Stone plans to announce tonight that he is joining forces with a nonprofit technology group to start ConvergeUS, a charity that seeks to combat social problems with new technology.

The nonprofit's goal is to make resources of large technology companies more available to nonprofit, academic, and government organizations, said Rey Ramsey, chief executive of TechNet, who said he approached Mr. Stone to work with his group.

While ConvergeUS filed for nonprofit status in spring 2010, Mr. Ramsey said the past year has been spent preparing and planning. He said he considers this evening’s debut at a Washington event an opportunity for the organization to begin its mission in earnest.

ConvergeUS will pick three causes to focus on each year, collaborate with nonprofits working on the cause, and then go to work finding ways technology can help. ConvergeUS will work closely with TechNet–whose members include companies like Apple, Dell, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo–to find the right tech companies to fulfill the chosen causes’ needs through technology.

“We’re not just throwing a computer at something or a device at something,” Mr. Ramsey said. “We’re being very intentional.”

In the coming year, the organization will work on youth literacy with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Campaign for Grade-Level Reading” and on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

A third cause has not yet been chosen, though the ConvergeUS Web site Tuesday asked visitors if they believed technology could improve the nation’s disaster-management efforts and better used to support military families.

The kick-off event is to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Speakers will include former Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin and Mr. Stone.

The event will be streamed live online, and there will be a chance to ask questions of the speakers through Twitter.