Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Pi515’s Jumbo Jenga Tournament set to take place November 2

Pi515 will hold their second fundraising event, the Jumbo Jenga Tournament Fundraiser, on Friday, November 2.

All fundraising and proceeds of the tournament go towards Pi515’s goal of educating at-risk and refugee students on STEM skills while advancing Iowa’s tech pipeline.

Pi515 offers at-risk students in Central Iowa computer science, coding and STEM programming paired with financial literacy and college prep.

“We’re asking these kids to compete in a world and expecting them to be successful and yet they don’t have the tools to succeed,” said Nancy Mwirotsi, founder and Executive Director of Pi515. “What we strive to do is make sure that any child who goes through our program learns tech skills, soft skills, job shadow with a company, and when they launch their product, they earn a computer.

Pi515 hosted the event for the first time last November and raised over $15,000. During the event,  Mwirotsi announced an initiative for Pi515 to recruit and introduce 100 new students to technology and have them able to develop a website in 2018.

Pi515 has already surpassed that goal and has recruited 116 new students so far this year, Mwirotsi told Clay & Milk.

Those attending can register as a team of four at a cost of $80 per team or can come and watch the tournament at $15 per person. Those unable to attend the event, but who would like to donate to Pi515, can do so here. The deadline to register is October 26.

Pi515's Jumbo Jenga Tournament set to take place November 2 | 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
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now