Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Middle Bit: Microsoft announces funding opportunity for Des Moines nonprofits this spring

A new funding opportunity is available this fall for Des Moines-based nonprofits. The Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund will look to fund projects that promote social, economic, and civic equity in the Des Moines area.

Funded projects must fall into one or more of the below priority funding categories:

  • Digital Literacy: Provide skills and resources to improve digital literacy and increase digital participation in the economy
  • Environmental Sustainability: Invest in projects that improve the community environment and teach sustainable lifestyle skills
  • Workforce Development: Help build skills to enable participation in the 21st-century economy, inclusive of digital and trade skills and helping underserved groups

The program will offer two types of funds for qualifying organizations/non-profits that serve constituents in the region of Des Moines:

Community Small Projects for requests up to $10,000. These funds are aimed at supporting small projects that contribute to the immediate needs of the community. For example: Support a nonprofit to be energy efficient and climate neutral by upgrading the current building infrastructure.

Community Large Projects for requests from $10,000 to $30,000. These funds are aimed at supporting large-scale projects that contribute to community social, economic, or environmental outcomes.

Preliminary applications are due by February 21, 2021.

BrokerTech Ventures invests in insurance verification startup TrustLayer

TrustLayer, a collaborative risk management startup has completed a $6.6 million seed round of financing. Abstract Ventures led the round with participation from Propel Venture Partners, NFP Ventures, BoxGroup and Precursor Ventures. The round was heavily oversubscribed, a reflection of the strength of TrustLayer’s current compliance software and its success in developing a digital proof of insurance solution.

BrokerTech Ventures (BTV) is also participating in the seed round. This represents BTV’s first investment in a cohort member of their accelerator.

“We continue to be impressed and encouraged by the momentum and industry adoption of the TrustLayer technology and risk management platform,” said Dan Keough, co-CEO of BrokerTech Ventures in an announcement. “We view TrustLayer’s involvement in our inaugural BrokerTech Ventures Accelerator program as a catalyst for them to become the information clearinghouse for the insurance industry, and we are delighted to be a part of their capital raise and continued success.”

ICAD hosting EdTech panel discussion on Feb. 11

On Thursday, Feb. 11 the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) will be hosting a webinar focus on Iowa’s Edtech industry.

The panel will include:

  • Dr. Dan Clay (moderator), Dean, The University of Iowa College of Education
  • Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA)
  • Michal Eynon-Lynch, Co-Founder of Pear Deck
  • Adam Keune, Co-Founder of Higher Learning Technologies
  • Ada Woo, Chief of Staff and Senior Director of the Assessment Sciences Unit at Ascend Learning
Middle Bit: Microsoft announces funding opportunity for Des Moines nonprofits this spring | 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