Middle Bit: Iowa Colleges awarded $4.4 million to increase internet connectivity

The state of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Education have awarded 43 Iowa colleges and universities nearly $4.4 million to increase internet connectivity for students in the 2020-21 school year.  

The funding is part of the state’s $26.2 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds, and is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The awards will help colleges and universities address barriers to online and remote learning opportunities for the 2020-21 school year and help ensure students have equitable access to technology needed to continue their education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Expanding virtual education delivery methods and ensuring students have the technology needed to access them are some of the new challenges our higher education institutions are facing due to the pandemic,” Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education, said in a release. “These awards will enable colleges and universities to seek reimbursements for investments made to increase access, whether that be devices and software needed for virtual education or hotspots and other ways to increase internet access.”  

Each college and university submitted an application indicating how it would use the funds to increase connectivity for students.   

Allocations were based on the financial need of undergraduate students at each of the educational institutions. Click here for a list of the recipients.

An additional $1.5 million in GEER funds will be available for professional development to aid effective online and remote instruction at Iowa’s colleges and universities. Applicants have till December 11th to apply.


Manchester Story participates in $24 million investment round in digital insurance agency Matic

Matic, a U.S.-based digital insurance agency, recently announced it secured $24 million through its latest investment round. ManchesterStory, a Des Moines-based investment firm, participated in the round with along participation from IA Capital. Cultivation Capital, Clocktower Technology Ventures, MTech Capital, The K Fund, Protection America, Nationwide Ventures, Anthemis Group, Franklin Madison, and Fenway Summer.

Founded in 2014, Matic describes itself as a technology-driven insurance agency that is focused on helping lenders and loan officers better integrate homeowner’s insurance into the lending process.

“I am excited to have our new investors on board and for our existing investors to continue to support our mission of simplifying insurance,” Matic CEO, Ben Madick said. “I am thrilled to have Andrew Lerner join our board of directors, bringing 25 years of financial services and insurance industry experience to our team of over 150.”


Applications open for Iowa Innovation Challenge

The Iowa Innovation Challenge will bring $225,000 in total funding during the 2020-2021 academic year across the University of Iowa’s campus. The Challenge is a university-wide competition with the goal to identify, advance and support the most innovative and entrepreneurial projects on campus.

There are two phases to the Challenge:

  • The first phase, an Elevator Pitch Competition, will be held in November 2020 and will award $75,000 in prizes.
  • The second phase, a Business Model Competition, will be held in spring 2021 and will award $150,000 in additional prizes.

Pitch workshops will be held prior to both competitions to help individuals/teams prepare. The Elevator Pitch Competition workshop will be on Friday, October 30 at 11:30 am on Zoom. RSVP here.