Pi515 Summer Update

Read on to find out what we've been up to since the year began.

Girl's Entrepreneurship Summit

We wrapped up the Girls’ Entrepreneurship Summit in May, and are happy to report that three of our participants are successfully running businesses, with the help of the investment we were able to make in them both financially and from a mentorship perspective. The additional graduates are using their funds to further their education and meet their personal goals. One of our students was recently featured in the Des Moines Register for her new business venture!

Safie Jackson, an Iowa State University student studying kinesiology, recently started her business, Sofie's Soufflé Creations, selling natural body butters and oils. Jackson, 21, took an entrepreneurship course with Pi515, a nonprofit educational program, earlier this year and soon after decided to start her business in June. “I thought (the timing) was perfect," she said. "School was out, I was going to have a lot of time, the class material was still fresh, so I thought I’m going to take the chance and do this."

Facebook and Pi515 Engineer for the Week:

Pi515 partnered with Facebook to bring an amazing curriculum to 130 middle and high school students around central Iowa. This project was facilitated by our intern, Jared Ren, and wrapped up in May. We are planning to offer the program as part of our Fall 2021 curriculum. You can check out Pi515 students Vivian and Josh presenting at the 2021 Iowa High School Tech Summit (hosted by The Technology Association of Iowa) in this video starting at the 40 minute mark!

Apprenticeship Program:

Our pilot Apprenticeship program ended in May with students becoming certified in the use of WordPress to build websites. The participants also earned a laptop, college credits, and a stipend to help them obtain future work or education. We have secured funding to offer a second Apprenticeship program this fall, equipping students with skills for a successful future of work. Thank you to our IT Admin Mohamed Sharif for facilitating this course.

Summer SMART Cities and Data Challenge:

Pi515 just finished our Pi 515 Summer SMART Cities and Data Challenge. High school students from around Iowa came together to hear inspirational guest speakers, and work together to innovate solutions to help our city become SMART. Students met twice per week throughout June and July. Students learned about data, research, business model canva, and how to pitch an idea. We were extremely impressed with their final project presentations and thanks to our sponsors, were able to award them with funds to take their ideas to the next level. This course has been facilitated by our summer interns- Khadija Aden (Biochemistry & Computer Science Major at Drake University) and Kiana Fay (Computer Science Major at Iowa State University). We are extremely proud of their leadership and growth over the last two months as part of the Pi515 team.

Digital Inclusion:

July marked the beginning of our push for Digital Inclusion awareness and action- a cause that has been on our minds for years. We teamed up with several local companies to bring awareness to issues like the digital gap and digital equity.  Look for our posts, videos, and #inclusionIOWA and #digitalequityNOW on social media. Pi515 hosted an event at Grand View University where we helped almost 200 students get connected to the internet via hotspot devices donated by AT&T and Connected Nation. Along with the giveaway, recipients were able to learn basic digital literacy skills, courtesy of Google Fiber, to ensure responsible internet usage and safety. We loved having our first volunteer event in over a year and are thankful to our volunteers and partners for helping us close the digital gap by connecting people to the internet- a resource that has become vital to everyday life. We are looking forward to distributing additional hotspots and digital literacy skills to families involved in the Boys & Girls Club in Waterloo and two other non profits in Cedar Rapids. This campaign is just the beginning of our journey to close the digital gap and we are excited to see what fall brings!

Athene Scholarship Recognition:

We want to take a moment to say congratulations to Eman, Khadija and Ferdinand who were awarded The Game Changer Scholarship from Athene. Eman is a Pi515 alum and Ferdinand (who is also a Pi515 alum) and Khadija have been working hard as part of our summer intern team! It is great to see our students being recognized for their hard work.

Busy, right? We are looking forward to fall 2021, when we hope we can be back, in person, with our students for regular, after school, programming!

Our fearless leader, Nancy, has spent countless hours working to secure funding for Pi515 and all of the amazing programs captured above. We are extremely thankful to her. Because of her hard work, Pi 515 is thankful to call these individuals and companies partners:

-John Pappajohn

-John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers

-United Way


-Larson Family Foundation


-Google Fiber


-Bank of the West


-Lutheran Church of Hope

-W.T. & Edna M. Dahl Trust


-Coca Cola

-Grand View University

-Startup City Des Moines


-The Palmer Group

-Connected Nation

-Variety The Children’s Charity

-DLL Group

-Foundation For The Carolinas

-Merchants Bonding

-O’Halloran Family Foundation

If you would like to partner with us, become a Pi 515 volunteer, or make a donation you can email us tech@pi515.org Thank you for your continued support!

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