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Traveling as a force for good

Autumn Eastman likes helping people.

Earlier this year, she founded Worthy Buck, a company looking to provide humans with access to basic resources through a platform that allows donators to send direct help to people in need, and receive proof of the impact of their giving.

“We basically realized that people really want to make an impact but people feel a little bit burnt buy the donation process in general and don’t really know the best place to donate,” Eastman said. We really want to  do is create an experience for donors to be able to see the live, instant impact of their donation dollars.”

Eastman and WorthyBuck’s other founder, Lyric Harris, will embark on a year and a half long research trip around the world visiting impactful companies and learning about the best way to make world change.

The duo will be traveling to 33 different countries visiting nonprofits, meeting with world leaders and learning from different cultures. They hope to use what they learned traveling to figure out a way to make the donation experience as easy, transparent and impactful as possible.

Eastman says they have been toying with the idea of live streaming donation events. This would consist of having Worthy Book heroes in different parts of the world that would live stream donation events allowing donators to directly see where their money is going and its impact.

Earlier this year, Eastman and Harris participated in Venture School to help them enhance their idea and network with mentors. The two are currently based in Des Moines while they plan for their trip.

The School Spirit Project

In the meantime, Eastman is working on the School Spirit Project, an effort to provide children in Cedar County, Iowa. The School Spirit Project works by offering online apparel to benefit kids in Lisbon, Iowa that don’t have access to basic hygiene at home.

“We discovered that teachers are using their own money to give out toilet paper and hygiene products for kids that don’t have access at home,” Eastman said.

When you buy a t-shirt or a mug through the School Spirit Project, all the proceeds from that go to one month’s worth of hygiene for a child in Cedar County.

Traveling as a force for good | 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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