As we take in the new year, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what has been an incredible year of growth for our organization. Read on to get a recap into our year, and a short behind the scenes glance at what we have planned for the year of 2023!
In the past year our Pi515 team has grown now to include four-full time employees and over a dozen bright young interns. Every day we enjoy learning from each other and continuing our development both on personal and professional levels, allowing us to think outside the box and utilize each other's strengths in new ways. We are looking forward to continuing this momentum into the new year as we continue to fulfill our critical commitment to the youth in our community.
In the fall of 2022 we expanded our Tech Mentorship Program with the addition of John Deere Financial and John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group. The program began in October and is currently on-going until March, with two new cohorts of talented students engaged in learning and a new group of volunteers enthusiastic to help mentor and guide students in their journey through the program! We are thankful for the partnership of both John Deere and Principal Financial Group in facilitating this unique program, and grateful for their sustained commitment to the youth in this community!
Recently, Pi515 was awarded the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council Seal of Approval for our Tech Mentorship Program. As we further expand to areas outside of the Greater Des Moines Area, we are grateful to receive recognition from the State of Iowa for our work with students within this program. The seal is given to us after an extensive review process in which our program was evaluated for its rigor, content, and effectiveness. The awarding of the seal indicates that our Tech Mentorship Program exhibits one of the most advanced STEM education initiatives in the country.
Throughout 2022 we had the privilege of serving many talented students, impacting their families and many others in the community. In the spring, our third annual Girls’ Entrepreneurship Summit was a resounding success. Each young woman left the program with a solidified business plan and experience formally pitching her ideas. Two summit participants are currently pursuing patents for their products.
We continued our Middle School Programs at three middle schools within the DMPS district. Students from Hoyt, Brody, and Weeks had the opportunity to explore technology in a creative way, through the design and development of their own computer games. Pi515 high school interns taught this program, mentored participants, grew their leadership skills, and continued to further their interest in STEM fields.
Our 2022 Summer Program took place at Hoyt Middle School as well, where we provided students with the chance to explore new and exciting technologies, including circuit boards, coding, app design, and virtual reality.
With the help of students from Drake University’s College of Business and Public Administration, we held a CEO Roundtable with leading CEOs and entrepreneurs from the community. This event was focused around college students transitioning into the workforce and closing the gaps that exist in workforce readiness. A special thank you to our panelists for their invaluable reflections and insights: Nick Gerhart, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of Homesteaders Life Company; Torey Maerz, founder and CEO of ClientCircle; David Leto, President of Palmer Group; and Kelsey Breeze, senior HR generalist. We hope the young and future professionals in attendance benefitted from the robust and honest discussion.
In approaching 2023, we are excited to continue a number of programs. In February, we will be continuing our Middle School Program, with the addition of three new middle schools within the DMPS district. An after school video game design club will be available to students at Merrill, Weeks, and McCombs Middle Schools. From March to May, students will use Scratch, a block-based coding program, to design, build, and play their very own video games. Classes are taught by high school students enrolled in our leadership academy, a 15-week program designed to empower youth aged 14-19 to visualize their capacity for leadership and learn how to effectively enact their voice in any environment.
Also beginning in March, our 3rd annual Girls Entrepreneurship Summit. We look forward to this 6-week program, opened to all future female entrepreneurs aged 14-22 in the Greater Des Moines area. Students meet each Saturday to cover essential entrepreneurial topics including: business model canvasses, marketing, prototypes, and an introduction to the legality of starting a business. Female entrepreneurs and innovators from the community join class as instructors and guest speakers, allowing students to create meaningful mentorships and expand their professional network. The program culminates in the Day of Innovation, a one-day event featuring a pitch competition with cash prizes and an evening of networking where participants can meet influential members of the community and celebrate their accomplishments.
As always, we are grateful and appreciative for contributions from our community that allow us to continue on our mission. As a community-based organization, we rely on the support of others to continue to be able to give back and provide our programs at no cost to students. Support comes in many forms, and the willingness of our donors, sponsors, volunteers, and community partners to share their time, energy, and funds to support Pi515 is greatly appreciated. Without your support, Pi515 would not be able to offer the breadth and depth of assistance to the students and families we serve. If you would like to support our organization, please find our campaign page here. Special thank you to each and every one of our supporters including our official 2022 corporate sponsors and partners.
Jade Nettrour is a senior in high school and has already designed an early prototype of new Christmas tree lights to make the annual decorating process easier — and more cat-friendly — for her family and their five felines. Nettrour’s demonstration earned her second place in a student “Shark Tank” pitch competition in 2020, and she’s now exploring patent options.
The success of Bread by Chelsa B is not only a culmination of Smith's previous work experience in online sales or the influence of her social circle of entrepreneurs, she said:
DES MOINES, Iowa—Computer jargon is not for the faint of heart, but Dieudonne Samuel follows the lesson with ease, typing a series of brackets and letters that somehow translate into a newly created website. This process of breaking down the page to its core components makes sense to him. He used to take apart electronics to see how they were put together, a baffling curiosity and mastery for a boy who just a decade ago lived in a refugee camp in Mozambique.