Des Moines nonprofit Pi515 seeks to close gaps in tech skill in Iowa

Sam Fried

Table of Contents ‘They surprise us everyday’ ‘It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s better to have computer skills’ Eca Itabelo first used a computer in middle school.  “Where I’m from, we don’t use computers,” she said. Itabelo, now 18 and a senior at North High School, moved from Tanzania to Iowa with her family in […]

Eca Itabelo first used a computer in middle school. 

“Where I’m from, we don’t use computers,” she said.

Itabelo, now 18 and a senior at North High School, moved from Tanzania to Iowa with her family in 2017. She was still learning English when she joined a tech program through the nonprofit Pi515, where she learned how to build a website.

Today, Itabelo is learning how to code at the new Principal Community Learning Center, this time through a tech mentorship program with Pi515 and Principal Financial Group. 

“For me to even be here right now, I feel seen. I feel chosen. Not everyone has this opportunity,” she said with a huge smile.

Principal software engineer Crystal Houston helps Martin Nguyen, Tywan Butts and Joey Brekelmans with a coding project during a Pi515 meeting, on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, at Principal, in Des Moines. Pi515 teaches high school and college students about the Information Technology field and how diverse it can be.

Pi515 is a nonprofit that teaches technology, career, and leadership skills to students who are refugees or underserved so that they can be successful and gain stability within their families and communities. It offers many programs, partnerships, and opportunities with professionals in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, to prepare students who come from diverse, or low-income families. 

“We get to show kids who they can be,” said Nancy Mwirotsi, who founded the nonprofit seven years ago.


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/

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