Des Moines leader Nancy Mwirotsi receives $10,000 grant for STEM work

Special to the Register
Published 5:34 a.m. CT Oct. 2, 2020

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Athletes from Ames, Hoover, North and Roosevelt speak before the DMPS March for Fairness.

Des Moines Register

Nancy Mwirotsi, founder of Pursuit of Innovation 515 (Pi515) in Des Moines, has been awarded a $10,000 Nation of Neighbors grant from Royal Neighbors of America, one of the first and largest women-led insurers in the country.

Mwirotsi is known in the area for her advocacy work on behalf of underserved women, refugees, and low-income students, the press release announcing the award stated. She will use the grant to expand her Girls Entrepreneurial Summit program that focuses on educating young women on business basics including planning, financials, marketing, and digital promotion.

“I am shocked and quite honored to have received this grant,” Mwirotsi said in the release. “It’s such a blessing to be recognized for your work.”

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Nancy Mwirotsi, founder and executive director of Pi515, speaks on Sept. 14, 2020 at Edmunds Elementary School in Des Moines. Attending speakers disapproved the model of 100% virtual instruction, instead advocating a hybrid model to better assist students with learning disabilities, language barriers, and less access to technology at home. Mwirotsi recently received a $10,000 grant for her work with Pi515. (Photo: Olivia Sun/The Register)

Pi515’s mission is to help create an inclusive culture for underserved women to learn STEM and provide them with the employment skills needed to launch them into new planes of achievement.

“Pi515 is taking on the inequity in STEM-related careers by directly addressing the pipeline. Each year, we embrace 100 students, particularly girls, from diverse backgrounds,” Mwirotsi said. “We introduce them to teachers and companies with employees who look like them, and provide role models that inspire them. We provide – at no cost – essential skills in coding and robotics augmented by soft-skills training for a well-rounded education and workforce preparedness.”

Allowing young girls to see – and realize – their potential earlier in their lives also cultivates a highly needed perspective on innovation.

“The more women and minorities we are able to launch into STEM fields, the better for society. Diversity of thought through diversity of perspective has been proven to improve bottom lines. As a society, we should strive to create more avenues so that diversity is reflected across all fields, not just technology,” Mwirotsi added.   

Michelle Hilliker, Regional Sales Account Manager at Royal Neighbors, will lead the virtual award presentation.

Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors of America philanthropy program that provides financial assistance to individuals who have a plan to start or expand a business, organization, program, or nonprofit that helps women and/or girls in their community. To date, more than $2 million has been awarded nationwide.

About Royal Neighbors of America

Royal Neighbors of America is a provider of life insurance and annuities whose mission is to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. In 1895, Royal Neighbors was founded as a membership organization by nine pioneering women who recognized the need to insure the lives of women and children and the importance of localized philanthropy. Headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois, with an operation in Mesa, Arizona, Royal Neighbors serves more than 215,000 members.                                         

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