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Middle Bit: Google to give away $1 Million to Iowa nonprofits

Google announced Monday plans to give out $1 million to Iowa nonprofits through a competitive grant process.

Through the newly announced program, Impact Challenge Iowa, nonprofits based in Iowa can submit proposals for “bold ideas to grow economic opportunity in their local communities.”

Five nonprofit applicants will be selected by local judges to receive $175,000 in grant funding along with access to Google’s training and tools. The public will then have a chance to vote for their favorite idea. The winner with the most public votes will receive an additional $125,000.

Nonprofits can apply online now. The deadline for applications is May 17.

What else is happening?

New coworking space in Coralville

A new coworking space, CoWork @ 808, opened earlier this month in Coralville.

The new space, located at 808 Fifth St., is the group’s third coworking space to open in Johnson County, with two other locations in Iowa City and North Liberty.

Last October, the project received $40,000 in funding from the city of Coralville to help get the space up and running.

Andrew Yang to speak at Monetery

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang will be speaking at Monetery on May 21.

In Nov. 2017, Yang officially launched his campaign for the presidency and has become best known for his proposal for Universal Basic Income, known as the Freedom Dividend.

In 2011, he founded Venture for America, a national entrepreneurship fellowship, and helped create more than 2,500 jobs in cities across the country.

Yang will speak about how policy can impact tech companies and the role that companies can play in affecting policy. He joins seven other announced speakers set to speak at Monetery.

Middle Bit: Google to give away $1 Million to Iowa nonprofits | 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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