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5 heartwarming tech stories you missed this week

Above: Leo "Journeyman" Grand and Patrick McConlogue.

It’s been an inspiring week in tech, with the season of giving firmly upon us.

The VentureBeat team had you covered on the big news and funding announcements, which included yet another $50 million for Snapchat from a mystery investor and Google’s foray into robotics.

But more importantly, we saw some ambitious examples of technology being used for philanthropic causes. So settle in, enjoy a hot cup of tea and our roundup of the most feel good stories from the Internets.

And as always, for more top stories, check out our editors’ picks.

Trip Hawkins’ new game helps kids learn about their feelings

if-bridgeElectronic Arts’ founder Trip Hawkins released a new game, which focuses on subjects most schools don’t teach: social and emotional development. Hawkins told us in an interview that the new game intends to shift our value system “away from materialism and toward compassion.”

More specifically, the game dubbed “IF…” intends to help kids feel more comfortable expressing their feelings. Hawkins feels particularly strongly that it can reduce bullying in the U.S. Read more about the game here.

Homeless coder prevails over skeptics — releases mobile app to get off the streets

leo-grand

Above: Homeless coder Leo Grand

When Patrick McConlogue announced his intention to teach a homeless man to code, the Internet unleashed its wrath. Now about three months later, Leo “Journeyman” Grand released a mobile app called “Trees for Cars.” It is available on iOS and Android for a buck, and Grand gets 70 cents for every download. The hope is that enough people will download the app that Grand will be able to afford a home, find a job, and/or pay for school.

It may not be a long-term solution, but McConlogue and Grand hope to least offer a bridge to more opportunities. The release of Trees for Cars is a major milestone in what we believe to be an inspiring story, and a reminder that we all have the power to help those in need. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

Obama kicks off CS Education Week with Code.org: ‘Don’t just play on your phone — program it’

flickr-obama-hangoutComputer Science Education Week shaped up to be the biggest yet. The initiative kicked off with President Barack Obama (along with other prominent politicians and celebrities) issuing a video statement to encourage students to participate. Across the country, millions of people signed up for an hour-long programming class. In cities like Chicago, school districts introduced new computer education courses into their core curriculum.

The annual event, run this year by nonprofit Code.org, has also gathered tremendous support across the technology world, with more than 100 partners including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Disney, and others. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

Inside Palantir’s philanthropic data engineering team

data1732-x2-1Palantir is considered one of the creepiest, most mysterious companies in the world. If you believe the rumors, the company helped a black ops initiative kill Osama Bin Laden and the National Security Agency in its massive surveillance operation.

But few people realize that Palantir also works closely with a number of nonprofit organizations, assisting in various disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. The company has hired a small philanthropic engineering team, which it sends into disaster zones to assist relief organizations. These developers are also working to shine a light on the global human trafficking trade. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

Don’t support animal abuse? This mobile app helps you find ‘cruelty-free’ places to eat

1237445_441827032604978_163166015_oNonprofit organization America for Animals is building a mobile app that makes it easier not to, by helping people find restaurants with vegan, vegetarian, and humanely raised options. The organization believes that most of us unknowingly support animal cruelty every day by eating factory raised meat.

The app presents an array of restaurants that align with these values, so that more people will stop supporting the mainstream meat industry. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

More about the companies and people from this article:

(from Web Site) Palantir Technologies is working to radically change how groups analyze information. Palantir was founded in 2004 by a handful of PayPal alumni and Stanford computer scientists. The company has doubled in size every... read more »

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