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Middle Bit: Facebook Altoona Data Center donates $136,000 for local projects


The Facebook Altoona Data Center is providing over $136,000 in Community Action Grants to 11 community organizations to increase STEM education and technology initiatives in the area.

On Wednesday, a post on the Altoona Data Center Facebook page announced the news; 11 organizations received $136,970 in grant funding for 2018.

The 2018 recipients were:

  • Altoona Area Historical Society – $5,000
  • Altoona Public Library – $10,400
  • Bondurant Farrar High School – $10, 542
  • Morris Elementary/Bondurant Farrar School District – $10,000
  • Bondurant Farrar Middle School – $14,000
  • Class Act Productions – $14,948
  • Youth Code Iowa/Impacting the Next Generation – $12,180
  • Pi515 – $10,000
  • Southeast Polk Centennial and Willowbrook Elementary Schools – $30,000
  • Southeast Polk High School – $15,000
  • Southeast Polk Junior High School – $4,900

In total, the Facebook data center in Altoona has donated over $300,000 in grants the last three years.

Site coordinator Melissa Lawrence said every Facebook data center site offers community grants.

“Our way of giving back and being good stewards of the community we live and work in,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the application process is very simple—intentionally—and that applications open each October until the middle of December. She said organizations or projects that impact the students or communities of the Southeast Polk and Bondurant Farrar School Districts are what typically get supported.

What else happened…


Packback, a Chicago-based developer of an AI-powered online discussion platform, raised $4.2 million in Series A funding – FinSMEs


Why 6 millennials chose 1 Iowa town to run their businesses – The Des Moines Register

DeltaV Code School graduate find jobs in Cedar Rapids two months after graduation – NewBoCo


Minnesota’s sports tech scene is heating up –


Interview with Hyperloop One exec on Missouri plan –

1 Million Cups celebrating black startups in February –

Bungii closes $3 million funding round – SPN


TPA Stream, a Cleveland-based health insurance administration software company, completed $800k in seed financing – FinSMEs

Middle Bit: Facebook Altoona Data Center donates $136,000 for local projects | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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