Pi515 Selected as Part of Microsoft’s National TechSpark Program to Grow Economic Opportunity in Iowa

By working together, Pi515 and Microsoft TechSpark aim to bridge this gap and ensure that more students are equipped with the necessary skills for success for the future of work. Through collaborative efforts, Pi515 seeks to create educational opportunities, provide mentorship, and foster a stronger connection between industry and students


Pi515 and Microsoft to work together to ensure regional expansion in computer science education, digital access and inclusion.

Des Moines, Iowa – Pi515 announced today that it will be working with Microsoft  TechSpark to foster inclusive economic opportunity, job creation, and innovation in Des Moines, Iowa. Currently, the state of Iowa faces a shortage of students with future-ready skills in technology such as computer science. By working together, Pi515 and Microsoft TechSpark aim to bridge this gap and ensure that more students are equipped with the necessary skills for success for the future of work. Through collaborative efforts, Pi515 seeks to create educational opportunities, provide mentorship, and foster a stronger connection between industry and students. The collaboration aims to increase the number of students with adaptive skills for the workforce of tomorrow in Iowa.

Pi515 is a nonprofit that addresses the lack of educational opportunities in STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship for youth. Our free after-school programs teach computer science, digital literacy, innovation, entrepreneurship, and provide academic and personal support to students. Pi515’s Tech Mentorship Program, endorsed by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, offers free training in tech, upskilling, and mentorship from tech companies such as Principal Financial Group and John Deere, enabling students to earn three college credits. Nine years of effort by Pi515 has resulted in closing digital, STEM, and income gaps in underserved communities. This effort will be supported by a Microsoft grant to fund a TechSpark Community Engagement Fellow, who will spearhead local efforts, working with local partners to expand computer science education, inclusive digital skilling, digital inclusion, digital access, and digital transformation. This Fellowship represents the first time TechSpark has worked in Iowa.  

“We are honored to collaborate with Microsoft TechSpark to empower more students and prepare them for the future of work. In a world characterized by constant changes in the job market, this opportunity allows us to leverage resources and expertise to scale our programs effectively. Our vision is to expand our reach to rural Iowa, addressing the skills gap and rising unemployment rates in the region. Through comprehensive workforce preparation and technology education programs, we aim to equip individuals, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, with the essential skills needed to thrive in the modern job market. By fostering economic empowerment and bridging the socioeconomic gap, we aspire to create a more inclusive and prosperous society." - Nancy Mwirotsi, Founder and Executive Director of Pi515

“Pi515 is creating the future workforce that ensures Iowa will remain a leader in STEM.  The young people emerging from our programs are ready for real work experiences after completing our programing.  We are honored to work with Microsoft and together prepare more students for the future of work and collectively changing the lives of more young people in the Des Moines area.” - Nick Gerhart, Executive Vice President of Homesteaders Life Company and Board Chair of Pi515

“As the founder of Pi515, Nancy Mwirotsi has long been a changemaker in the STEM community and innovation ecosystem. She is a tireless champion for young entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, helping them turn their dreams into reality. With the development of Pi515's Tech Mentorship Program, the Girl's Entrepreneurship Incubator and the exciting announcement of the Microsoft TechSpark Program, Pi515 is fostering economic empowerment and creating opportunities for many Iowans who may otherwise not have access.” - Debi Durham, Director- Iowa Economic Development Authority

"Since we launched TechSpark in 2017, we’ve helped communities secure more than $125  million in funding and helped create thousands of jobs,” said Kate Behncken, Corporate Vice  President, Microsoft Philanthropies. "By expanding TechSpark to all 50 states, we hope to  continue our hyperlocal, partner-driven work to help communities realize the potential of  technology and foster greater economic opportunity."

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the expansion of its TechSpark program to tackle digital  inclusion in four focus areas: digital access, digital skills, computer science education, and digital transformation with local based organizations. Since its inception in 2017, TechSpark has helped its eight communities secure more than $125 million in community funding, skill 55,000 people, and create 3,300 jobs. Read more about Microsoft TechSpark here.

Join us in creating more community impact. Visit our website at www.pi515.org or send an email to tech@pi515.org  to learn more about our programs and how you can get involved.

About Tech Mentorship here: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2021/12/21/des-moines-stem-nonprofit-pi-515-tech-skill-gaps-poverty-iowa-refugee-low-income-students/6440928001/

Pi515 is a nonprofit organization based in Des Moines, Iowa, dedicated to empowering underserved and refugee youth through technology education and mentorship. Founded in 2014, Pi515 aims to bridge the digital divide and provide opportunities for students who are the first in their families to graduate high school or pursue higher education.

With a mission to challenge, inspire, and teach technology skills, Pi515 offers advanced learning opportunities outside of the traditional school setting. The organization strives to close the skills gap and address rising unemployment rates by equipping students with the essential skills for the future of work. Through free after-school programs, the organization exposes students to coding, innovation, critical thinking, soft skills, and upskilling. By empowering individuals from low-income households and supporting their families, Pi515 aims to foster economic empowerment and create a more inclusive and prosperous society.

The flagship initiative of Pi515, the Tech Mentorship Program, connects students with industry leaders and tech companies. This program provides technical and professional skills training, upskilling, and mentorship, allowing students to earn college credits while learning in real-world tech environments. The Tech Mentorship Program has received the Governor's STEM Council Seal of Approval, guaranteeing quality education and training that meets the demands of the tech industry.

For nearly a decade, Pi515 has achieved remarkable success, with many students pursuing degrees in STEM. The organization continues to expand its reach, with a vision to bring its programs to rural Iowa, ensuring that students across the state have access to quality technology education and mentorship.

Together, let's build a future where every student has equal opportunities to thrive in the digital age. Take action today and join Pi515 in:

Volunteer: Mentor and support underserved youth in technology education.

Donate: Contribute to expanding programs and providing resources.

Partner: Collaborate on internships, training, and career development.

Spread the Word: Share Pi515's mission and inspire others to get involved.

Advocate: Support equitable access to technology education and workforce development.

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