Ignite Community Innovation Challenge Winners Announced

December 7, 2015


The Greater Des Moines community is brimming with innovative minds and the nonprofit community is no exception. The Ignite Community Innovation Challenge is a grant award designed to encourage nonprofit organizations to re-think, re-frame and re-imagine how they carry out their missions. The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines is proud to implement the Ignite Community Innovation Challenge along with the following Innovation Investors: Bankers Trust, Bravo Greater Des Moines, John Deere, Kum & Go, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Nationwide, The Principal Financial Group Foundation, Riley Resource Group, Sammons Financial Group and United Way of Central Iowa.

Nonprofit organizations and partners were encouraged to submit innovative ideas designed to transform their work and the Greater Des Moines community. From more than 30 submissions, three finalists were selected to make an eight minute pitch to a panel of five community leaders outlining how grant funding from the Ignite Community Innovation Challenge would provide a unique opportunity to create change. The pitch event took place Thursday, Dec 3 and the community panel then determined the winner and runner-up of the challenge.

The Ignite Community Innovation Challenge Winners:

  • First place prize of $25,000 was awarded to Easter Seals – Food Truck With a Purpose. Easter Seals Iowa provides opportunities for people with disabilities or special needs and their families to have equal opportunity to live, work and play. They seek to continue this work by providing clients with an innovative opportunity to develop skills necessary for community based employment through a food truck serving healthy lunches and snacks.

  • Second place prize of $20,000 was awarded to ArtForce Iowa – StreetCred Studios. StreetCred Studios seeks to transform youth in need through art. They work with juvenile court-involved youth to provide them with job skills in the arts so they are uniquely positioned for future employment. They also offer support services to reduce recidivism rates among program participants.

“The Ignite Community Innovation Challenge winners exemplify the goals created for this unique funding opportunity.  We are anxious to see these innovative ideas take off in our community and the Innovation Investors could not be more pleased with all the finalists of this year’s challenge,” says Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, Community Foundation vice president of community investment and initiatives.

More about Easter Seals – Food Truck With a Purpose

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to work.  Currently, 47.4% of persons with disabilities are employed, compared to 67.7% of persons without disabilities.  We want to change this!  Often persons with disabilities are told that they "can't" work or they feel insecure in their abilities.  Often all a person needs is a little skill building and support to bring them into community based employment.    We want to support our clients to learn the skills they need for community based employment through the food truck. Easter Seals would purchase a food truck that would sell healthy lunches and snacks to Des Moines hungry downtown employees and would be staffed by our clients seeking employment.  This would give them an opportunity to learn many skills including customer service, working with co-workers, and time management that will translate well into community based employment.

Contact: Krable Mentzer, kmentzer@eastersealsia.org, (515) 309-9777

More about ArtForce Iowa – StreetCred Studios

Des Moines: Meet your workforce. We have 40 sincere, talented, ready-to-work youth. The only problem: they have criminal backgrounds. Instead judging their past, ArtForceIowa stands in awe of their potential. We want to give each of them a job; an opportunity to be productive and to learn marketable skills valuable to Iowa's growing creative industries. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in LA states, "Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Our preliminary efforts have evidenced that giving these youth jobs will reduce crime in our community.  The StreetCred Co-op will employ 40 court-involved youth in its first year to do professional screen printing, video production and photography for clients. Youth will gain experience- and employment- in every part of the process including client relations, project design, and production. Staff will connect them with any needed supportive services and encourage enhanced employment and education opportunities as their skills develop.  

Contact: John Mark Feilmeyer, johnmark@artforceiowa.org, (515) 777-3182