Iowa BIG Students Work on Innovative Projects with Economic Alliance Members

Nov 25, 2019

Some days Iowa BIG students may be at a museum collaborating on an exhibit involving robots. Other days, they may be creating innovative opportunities to streamline efficiency for nurses and patients at a local hospital. Still others may find them using hydroponics to grow food to be used at a local cafe. The community is the classroom for Iowa BIG students.

Iowa BIG is a partnership with area school districts that connects high school students with businesses to provide an experience-based learning environment. The examples above offer just a glimpse of the classroom work happening within this school year.

The business community plays an important role in Iowa BIG’s success by creating projects for students to work on and learn from. Organizations of any size and industry can partner with Iowa BIG, just like KCRG-TV9 did with their Coats for Kids project. The students’ tasks included meeting regularly with KCRG-TV9 staff, approaching businesses across the community to request participation as a drop-off or distribution location, as well as managing the locations through consistent communications and picking up boxes when they were filled with coats.

Additional examples of Economic Alliance member businesses collaborating with Iowa BIG this year include:

  • Women Lead Change (WLC) - Students are working on a half-day teen summit to coincide with WLC’s Conference in April. They’re also working on a leadership retreat for high school students in March at Lowe Park in Marion.
  • UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s Hospital - Students are creating innovative efficiencies for nurses and patients, as well as working on the You Be U campaign which aims to reduce mental illness stigmas.
  • National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library - Students are collaborating with the Museum and Metro High School students on an exhibit involving robots.
  • Alliant Energy - Students are building a display table to be used at STEM events representing a small example of a future microgrid, which is a localized group of electricity sources and loads.
  • Rapids Wholesale - Students are working on an app that would track a technician’s time on-site instead of calling/clocking in and out.
  • ImOn Communications - Students are working on a 10 Days of Christmas marketing/offers event.
  • Cedar Valley Humane Society - Students have multiple projects with the Humane Society, including a team working on designing shelters for barn cats, working on a cat companion program to match cats with senior citizens, and students are working to improve the quality of life for animals in shelters.
  • The History Center - Students are planning and writing scripts for walking tours in the area.
  • Lindale Mall - Students are researching opportunities for Lindale Mall to play a role as a community center, including public artwork.
  • Matthew 25 - Students are using hydroponics to grow food to be used in the Groundswell Cafe.
  • Cedar Rapids River Kings - Students are marketing the indoor football team and developing a kids club.
  • Economic Alliance’s Community Development Innovation Council’s Race for the Space - Students will be assisting in multiple arenas of work for this new business competition. Read more about Race for the Space on page 12.
  • Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District - Students are working on place-making projects within the District.

The Economic Alliance is proud to have Iowa BIG as part of our extended team. We encourage the business community to engage and mold our future workforce through project opportunities. If you’d like to get involved as a project partner, mentor or more, reach out to Amanda Zhorne and Laura Seyfer directly at or

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