The nonprofit AIM Institute recently received a $20,000 grant from the Charles E. Lakin Foundation, Inc., to support the Southwest Iowa Tech Training Initiative, which will allow AIM Code School to expand its web development skills training to residents of southwest Iowa.
“We are so grateful to the Lakin Foundation for their generous support of AIM and our mission to strengthen and diversify the tech community,” said Dr. Kandace Miller, Executive Director for AIM.
AIM Code School provides customizable technology training that integrates with people’s lives and allows them to keep their day jobs while developing valuable tech skills. It is Nebraska’s only state-accredited nonprofit code school.
In addition to AIM Code School, AIM also provides hands-on STEM education to youth, code camps for underserved high schoolers, leadership development programs and conferences for tech professionals, including HDC.
Charles E. Lakin Foundation, Inc. chose to fund AIM because of the dual-impact that a highly skilled tech workforce has on both the community and individuals.
“We are constantly hearing about issues with worker shortages in the trades and in IT,” said Jennifer Green, the foundation’s grants and operational manager.
Shoring up that worker shortage also ensures that tech-trained individuals can make a livable wage and break out of the cycle of poverty, Green said—an issue that is fundamental to the foundation and its namesake, Charles Lakin.
With a focus on southwest Iowa and Greater Omaha, the Charles E. Lakin Foundation, Inc. funds programs and organizations that help people in need overcome adversity, restore dignity and transform their lives. The foundation provides funding in three core focus areas: Children and Families, Education and Training, and Economic Resiliency. Grants are made by invitation only, an extension of the referral-based manner in which late founder Charles Lakin liked to conduct his charitable work.
“(Being invitation-only) just helps us give a little bit better vetting up front when we talk with different groups,” Green said. This is why you won’t yet find an official website for the foundation. Green did note, however, that a website was currently under development.
Charles Lakin was born near Emerson, Iowa, and worked as a farmer before becoming a successful real estate investor. Lakin owned grain elevators, a packing plant, motels, an art gallery and other properties across Iowa, Nebraska, Arizona and Colorado, according to an article published by the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil in 2013.
Lakin wanted to see people succeed no matter what their circumstances and believed strongly in providing “a hand up, not a handout,” as Green put it.
“Anything that he funded, he wanted to make sure that it was going to help others but also keep them on their path forward and be sustainable in the long run.”
Lakin and his wife of over 75 years, Florence (née Swoboda), donated more than $12 million in funding and property to establish the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs.
The campus houses a complex of agencies that provide critical services for children, the homeless and near-homeless, families in crisis, mental health, addiction treatment, disaster response, core education and volunteerism. Those agencies include Boys and Girls Club of Council Bluffs, American Red Cross, Micah House, All Care Health Center, Salvation Army and Heartland Family Service.