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Facebook announces education grants for multiple Iowa schools

Facebook announced this week education investment grants to multiple education institutions in the Des Moines area.

In one grant, Facebook is expanding its partnership with the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) by giving $97,000 to build a new, digital classroom to expand education opportunities to Iowa residents.

With the grant, DMACC will create a new digital classroom that creates online learning access and opportunities while easing the burden on students and instructors. The flexibility of digital, interactive learning will also encourage collaboration and exposure to new technologies, virtual sharing, and digital recording.

The grant expands an already existing between the DMACC and Facebook. Last year, DMACC and Facebook launched a customized Digital Marketing and Advertising curriculum. In September, Facebook announced it will continue funding those scholarships for the next two years.

Facebook also provides career counseling for students who take and complete the Digital Marketing and Advertising curriculum and will offer scholarships to students who earn their certificate in Digital Marketing. To date, 80 Iowa residents have taken or are taking these courses. The scholarship grants over the three years will be about $265,000 for Iowa students.

“DMACC is extremely proud of our partnership with Facebook and the impact we’re able to have on students because of it,” said Michael Hoffman, Executive Director of Continuing Education at DMACC, in the announcement. “Our new digital classroom will redefine the student experience, providing a collaborative atmosphere that empowers both faculty and students beyond limitations of a traditional classroom”.

Facebook is also providing a grant that will provide laptops for more than 1,100 students in the Bondurant-Farrar School District. This $355,000 grant enables every middle school and high school student in the district with the latest technology to afford the best opportunity for success. 

Facebook will also give a $40,000 grant to the Southeast Polk School District for STEM education which will include teacher training. 

Facebook will be launching its 2020 Community Action Grants which provide funding to organizations and schools in surrounding communities. In 2019, Facebook’s Community Grants Program provided over $200,000 in grants to local area schools and nonprofits. The 2020 application process will launch on November 4, 2019. Since breaking ground in 2013, Facebook has invested nearly $2 billion in its 3.5 million square foot Altoona Data Center.

Facebook announces education grants for multiple Iowa schools | 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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