Fun run raises $80K for equity in tech field, Portland schools


4k 4 Charity event gives back to two local diversity-focused schools

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A charity run that works to bolster diversity and inclusion in the tech industry raised over $80,000 this year for local schools Rosemary Anderson High School and KairosPDX.

Called 4K 4Charity, Thursday’s event at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland drew in 900 participants and supported by 21 sponsors from local tech companies and others.

Founded in 2014 by Portland-based tech company AWS Elemental (now owned by Amazon Web Services), the race event was started by Laura Barber and Sam Blackman as a way to increase equity in their field of work.

Barber, who is the global director of marketing relations and public relations for AWS Elemental, which is now owned by Amazon Web Services, said the race is designed for community members “to do something good for themselves by exercising and at the same time to raise funds for our community.”

Blackman, the company’s co-founder and CEO, passed away unexpectedly in 2017 and this year’s event doubled as a way to honor his commitment to community involvement, Barber said.

Laura Barber of Portland tech company AWS Elemental (now owned by Amazon Web Services) co-founded 4k 4 Charity, which seeks to raise funds to bolster equity in tech industry every year since 2014.

“Sam was a true leader in the Portland community in terms of his commitment to the community, his engagement to the community, and into spearheading initiatives that helped raise awareness and increase financial support for a lot of different non-profit organizations here,” Barber said.

Blackman was posthumously awarded a special honor at this year’s annual International Association of Broadcasters Conference, a large media industry event.

Since the 4K 4Charity’s inception, more than $350,000 has been raised for Rosemary Anderson High School and KairosPDX, two schools serving underserved communities in Portland, with Thursday’s event raising $80,000 alone.

At the race, KairosPDX Executive Director Kali Thorne Ladd spoke of the importance of bolstering diversity and inclusion in the science, technology, engineering and math industry fields.

“This run is supporting equity in the tech sector, in the STEM field. Right now, in 2019 the outcomes of children are still predicted by their race and by their class. And that is not how it should be. This run is about supporting organizations that are trying to change that. And I’m thankful to have all of you here and be part of this movement,” Thorne Ladd said.

AWS Elemental’s charity fun run isn’t limited to Portland, either: more than $1 million has been raised for charitable causes, including the local race and two others held in Los Angeles and Amsterdam each year.

The race’s 4K — or 2.49 miles — length is a reference to AWS Elemental’s work in ultra-high resolution 4K video.

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