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NewBoCo receives $50,000 grant to expand programming for K-5 students

Cedar Rapids nonprofit NewBoCo announced last week that it has received a $50,000 grant which will allow for the addition of healthcare-focused lessons into NewBoCo’s K-5 CoderDojo program.

CoderDojo is a free, biweekly program that offers K-5 students to learn STEM skills online. The grant funding will allow NewBoCo to hire a STEM Education Fellow to develop and test healthcare-focused CoderDojo stations and fund the equipment and materials necessary for such stations.

The grant funding comes from Telligen Community Initiative (TCI), a private, Iowa-based charitable foundation. TCI funding is designed to initiate and support innovative health-related projects designed to improve health, social well-being, and educational attainment.

“Introducing children to STEM education at an early age is crucial to helping inspire them to explore STEM careers across many industries when they grow up,” said Aaron Horn, NewBoCo’s Executive Director in an announcement. “Support from TCI to expand our CoderDojo program to include a focus on the health care industry will help inspire the next generation of innovative health care workers in our community..”

This support for CoderDojo was one of 18 grants selected for TCI’s 2020 Iowa and Illinois-based funding cycle, which awarded a total of $700,590 in grants to nonprofit organizations in these states. Other Iowa grantees this year included Iowa State University Foundation and YMCA of Greater Des Moines.


Middle Bit: NewBoCo announces changes in leadership -Nov. 6, 2020

Q&A with Jill Wilkins of NewBoCo -Nov. 18, 2020

NewBoCo announces big plans at inaugural Annual Meeting -Sept. 20, 2019

NewBoCo receives $50,000 grant to expand programming for K-5 students | 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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