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Pi515 students invited to participate in Connected Nation’s Kids Tech Summit

Pi515 students have been invited to participate in the 2022 Kids Tech Summit this spring.

The summit, hosted by Connect Nation, will provide an opportunity for students to use their digital skills to develop and lead community projects that will enhance their learning experience beyond the classroom.

“Pi515 is honored to have students chosen as participants,” wrote Pi515 in a news release. “AT&T has been a longtime supporter of Pi515 students and over the past year, Connected Nation has become a valuable partner as well.”

Students participating in the Kids Tech Summit can choose from the following project topics:

  • Access to Internet 
  • Digital Literacy Training 
  • Computer Refurbishing and Repair 
  • Digital Gap 
  • Community Websites 

Pi515 students who have been selected for this program participated in the Pi515 2021 SMART Cities Challenge. Pi515 partnered with AT&T, John Pappajohn, The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers, and StartupCity Des Moines to create the SMART Cities Summer Challenge. The challenge called on Iowa high school students to come up with innovative solutions to the ever-increasing urban challenges faced by the state of Iowa. During this course, students learned to compile and analyze data, developed their entrepreneurial skills, and gained confidence in their professional abilities. 

“Pi515 is excited for this opportunity to continue to work together to create awareness around digital inclusion and ultimately close the digital gap,” said Nancy Mwirotsi, Pi515 Founder and Executive Director.

Project submissions are due February 22. Finalists will be announced on February 28 and four awards ranging from $2,000 to $7,500 will be given on April 22. 

Pi515 students invited to participate in Connected Nation’s Kids Tech Summit | 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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