Second Des Moines Community Challenge Launched to Support Community Projects
Niamh McKenna, ChangeX’s co-founder and head of impact, explains the nonprofit organization’s partnership with Microsoft and what it means for Greater Des Moines (DSM).
In 2019, we began our partnership with Microsoft, launching the #MicrosoftCommunityChallenge in Arizona and Chicago. The Community Challenge model provides funding and support for local groups, schools and organizations that want to start a proven, scalable project in their local community, based on a carefully curated portfolio of ideas on offer through our community engagement platform.
Since that successful pilot two years ago, we’ve worked with Microsoft’s Datacenter Community Development team to bring the Community Challenge model to a number of datacenter communities in cities across the US, Sweden, the UK and Ireland. And one of those locations is DSM!
Des Moines Community Challenge
The first Des Moines Community Challenge was launched in 2020, and supported 26 local teams to start impactful projects across the region. The projects covered a range of themes, such as sustainability, play and digital skills. From Pollinator Partnership groups to FIRST Lego League teams, it was really exciting to see which of the ideas resonated with the people of DSM.
We’re delighted to once again be able to offer support to people in DSM who want to make their communities better. Supported by a Community Empowerment Fund award from Microsoft, we have recently launched the 2021 Des Moines Community Challenge, a $75,000 fund, to empower local people to drive positive change in their neighborhoods.
We aim to support up to 35 teams to start new community projects with this new fund. We’ve brought back many of the ideas that proved popular in across the region last year, and we also have funding available for some new ideas.
For example, funding is available to support Recycle Across America, a recycling project for schools, and Repair Café, an initiative where community members come together to fix things rather than throwing them away. We intend to add more new ideas over the coming months, to give local teams even more choice.
Once they apply for funding, local groups must complete a 30-day challenge. This involves building a small team and designing an action plan. Once they have completed this step, they will be eligible for funding ranging from $500 to $5,500.
As well as funding, teams receive support from Change X as they get their projects up and running. For example, our support team has a ‘starter call’ with a representative from each new team to help them understand the process. Teams are also provided with a starter pack and other resources, and a dedicated page on our platform to coordinate their group’s activities.
The 2021 Des Moines Challenge is open to people living in DSM, including the counties of Polk, Dallas, Warren, Madison, Guthrie, Jasper and Story. Funding will be allocated to qualifying applicants on a first come, first served basis.
We look forward to seeing which ideas prove popular this year. It’s exciting to build on last year’s success, and once again support the people of DSM to build impactful projects across their region.
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