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StartupCity Donates to Pi515 to Help Students Learn Technology and Innovative Problem-Solving Skills

June 25, 2021

GREATER DES MOINES, IA — StartupCity Des Moines announced it has donated $35,000 to Pi515 to help fund the SMART Cities Summer Challenge. The Pi515 SMART Cities Summer Challenge encourages students entering grades 9 – 12 to leverage technology based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and integrate an online population into new systems that make a city evolve into a SMART city.

StartupCity Des Moines was formed in 2011 as an incubator and co-working space. It was a public-private joint effort focused on growing the  Greater Des Moines (DSM) early-stage technology community, viewed by many as the inflection point that led to the modern startup ecosystem. StartupCity Des Moines was funded by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Polk County and the City of Des Moines, and this donation is the final disbursement of funds invested in StartupCity Des Moines. 

“Our community partners recognized the value of investing in innovators and entrepreneurs when helping launch StartupCity Des Moines nearly a decade ago,” said co-founders Tej Dhawan and Christian Renaud in a joint statement. “Today, that original investment continues to pay dividends where proceeds continue to help sustain investments in innovators. We are proud to support Pi515 and its sustained efforts in building Greater Des Moines’ technology, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.” 

Pi515 programs are designed for underserved middle and high school students. Pi515 serves over 100 low-income youth, most of whom are immigrants, refugees, or identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC). Pi515 programming creates a pathway to success in STEM-related careers for diverse youth by partnering with industry professionals who teach coding and other emerging technology skills. Another key emphasis for Pi515 is introducing middle school and high school girls to tech and entrepreneurship-related careers. 

The mission of Pi515 complements regional efforts such as the Future Ready DSM initiative designed to cultivate cradle-through-career education and training to ensure 75% of DSM working-age adults have degrees, certificates and other credentials by 2025, as well as The Partnership’s Global DSM efforts to help ensure people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to build strong careers in the region. 

“We are thankful for this donation that will help high school students in our region and state learn skills that will help prepare them for the future workforce and make our community a better place to live and work,” said Nancy Mwirotsi, Founder and Executive Director of Pi515. “The spirit of innovation that StartupCity helped foster in Greater Des Moines will carry over to these students who could be the next generation of startup business founders and entrepreneurs.”

(Photo Caption: Representatives from StartupCity Des Moines presented a donation to Pi515. Front row, from left to right: Ferdinand Alobo, Grand View University Intern; Mohamed Sharif, IT Administration for Pi515; Kiana Fay, Iowa State University Intern. Back row, from left to right: Christian Renaud, StartupCity Des Moines; Nancy Mwirotsi, Executive Director of Pi515; Tej Dhawan, StartupCity Des Moines; Khadija Aden, Drake University Intern; Kate Howe, Executive Assistant at Pi515.)

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future.