Like founder Nancy Mwirotsi, the nonprofit Pi515 thrives on a couple of key traits: ingenuity and independence, yet with a strong sense of community. Every volunteer instructor, fundraiser and supporter fills a role to support Pi515’s youth. 

In that context, a Jumbo Jenga tournament is the perfect fundraiser for the group. 

A four-person team from Des Moines Area Community College’s Urban Campus took home the prize as Jumbo Jenga champions at Friday’s event, organized by Mwirotsi, Laura Stapes, who also happens to be a colleague of the Business Record, and Anne Roth. Nearly 100 people registered 18 teams from the community. The final dollar count was still being tallied today, Roth said. 

“We think it’s so important that the business community knows that we exist, that we’re here and we need their assistance in teaching,” Roth said. 

Pi515 also announced the group will host its first-ever Computer Science Week with the Greater Des Moines Partnership and local teachers leading Advanced Placement classes for high school students. The new event stemmed from Pi515’s network at Roosevelt High School, Mwirotsi said, where students are taking on concepts like binary numbers without the benefit of tools like a class projector. 

“It’s very crucial and very important for us to hold a youth tech fair for AP students, so that companies can showcase what they have. When kids are sitting in classrooms, they know, ‘OK, this is why I should stick it out with binary and not drop out,’ ” Mwirotsi said. 

“What we’re trying to remind the tech companies is that you don’t have to go to San Francisco or New York to get talent. There’s talent in Iowa right now,” Mwirotsi told participants.