Nancy Mwirotsi is the Founder and Executive Director of Pursuit of Innovation (Pi515), operating out of Des Moines, Iowa. From an early age, Nancy was exposed to the entrepreneurial journey by her father, who found little ways to involve her in the process with tasks like counting money each night, which was accompanied by the daily advice, “Never stop dreaming.” So Nancy did just that, she persisted in her dreams and went from a tech school dropout to the Founder and Executive Director of her own tech business. She advocates that the entrepreneurial journey is a learning process, and rejection can be a good thing when handled well. There is no limit to what you can do if you continue to seek knowledge, learn lessons, and grow as a person.
The Pursuit of Innovation’s foundational story sparked as an idea one day when Nancy was helping teach an afterschool dance class for young refugee girls. She hoped to introduce them to the field of STEM and creating Pi515 allowed her to do that. With her organization’s mission, “To challenge, inspire and teach technology skills to students with potential,” Nancy is living out the dreams her father told her to reach for every day. Today, her life’s mission is to help young people excel with innovation as their main motivator.
About Pursuit of Innovation (Pi515)
Pi515 works with underserved youth focusing on people of color, refugees, and girls. With the belief that students succeed with opportunity, Pi515 is building a community to empower youth with skills for the future. They hope to build a tech pipeline that leads to more diverse representation across STEM fields in Iowa. Women and minorities have traditionally been underrepresented within these industries, and Pi515 works to enhance equity for these groups in the technology sector. They hope to show low-income and minority youth that they can become successful in moving along a career pathway and achieve earning potential that can break the cycle of poverty.
With after-school technology classes of 6-12th grade students, Pi515 programming creates a pathway to success in STEM-related careers for diverse youth by partnering with industry professionals who teach coding and other emerging technology skills. Career-focused soft skills are woven into the curriculum that helps students secure and maintain living-wage jobs in the future. Through exploration of topics like coding, app development, and machine learning, our participants gain hands-on experience with in-demand skills. As they learn to work together to innovate and think critically to solve problems, students develop confidence and begin to understand their potential.
Pi515 hopes to share the work they’re doing with other communities across the region while simultaneously seeking partnerships to continue strengthening their mission. Nancy is also working toward her next dream with her new startup called Building the tech Pipeline, a learning platform to help underserved young kids to STEM.