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Hy-Vee Awards $50,000 in Grants to Local Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses During Products, Services Showcase in Moline

Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit Hosted More Than 200 Attendees

September 19, 2023 | News & Press Releases

Today, Hy-Vee, Inc. awarded $50,000 to minority- and women-owned businesses during the Hy-Vee OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit at The University Club in downtown Moline.

During the pitch competition component of the event, 14 companies from across the Midwest presented to a panel of judges and more than 200 event attendees. Each company leader was able to demonstrate their product or explain their service for the chance to win a small-business grant from Hy-Vee. A Hy-Vee committee selected the participating companies from more than 70 applications.

Hy-Vee recognized the following during an awards presentation that followed the pitch competition:

Grand Prize Winner - $30,000: The Joy of Curls, LLC, Joy Hankins, Des Moines, Iowa
About: The Joy of Curls is a plant-based textured hair company that uses the finest ingredients found in nature to nourish hair and skin. Because of its clean ingredients, the products are multi-use and enjoyed by kids and caregivers which simplifies grooming routines for the whole family. The company’s mission includes donating products to children in foster care, and customers can support this mission by purchasing from the Pumpkin Baby line. The Joy of Curls also offers a digital hair styling class that supports caregivers in learning how to style, apply products and gently detangle textured hair so that individuals feel supported along their haircare journey.

Category: Food & Beverage

  • 1st place - $5,000: DogGurt, LLC, Amanda Colanino, Bellevue, Nebraska
    About: DogGurt is an all-natural frozen treat, available in six dog-approved flavors. DogGurt is hand mixed, and hand scooped with no added sugar or preservatives.

Category: Innovation & Technology

  • 1st place - $5,000: ATStudy Buddy, Allison Strickland, North Liberty, Iowa
    About: ATStudy Buddy is an online platform designed to help athletic training students study for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam. ATStudy Buddy is affordable, easy-to-use, and accessible on all devices, meeting the needs of Gen Z students. ATStudy Buddy offers seven practice exams mimicking the BOC exam experience and provides feedback so students can see areas for improvement. Study options include study outlines, drag-and-drop games, flashcards, matching games, keyword highlighting, fill-in-the-blank and anatomy hotspot modules.

Category: Health, Wellness & Beauty

  • 1st place - $5,000: Love Always, Abby, Abby Schlueter, Quincy, Illinois

About: Love Always, Abby is an e-commerce store that handcrafts and ships preserved rose arrangements across the U.S. With hardly any care, the very real, carefully preserved roses last a year or more.

 Sensiil Studios (Des Moines, Iowa) and Desserts by Design (Ottumwa, Iowa) were also presented with smaller cash prizes for their business ventures.

In addition to the above winners, the following also participated in the pitch competition:

  • Bao Destination LLC, Bloomington, Illinois 
  • GoPo Gourmet Popcorn, St. Fulton, Missouri
  • Origami Foods, LLC, Edwards, Illinois
  • Autistic & Loved, LLC, Davenport, Iowa
  • Green Current Solutions, Moline, Illinois
  • Bloom, Deep River, Iowa
  • Golden Bridges Inc., Quincy, Illinois
  • Quad Cities Music Therapy, Moline, Illinois

The event featured an expo that offered resources for small businesses, learning opportunities through presentations and panel discussions, the chance to learn about local brands and more.

The Hy-Vee OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit is one of several initiatives led by Hy-Vee that helps support minority- and women-owned businesses in the communities it serves. Hy-Vee remains committed to inclusivity by expanding product and service offerings that appeal to diverse lifestyles and backgrounds.


Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of more than $13 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 5 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 3 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 80,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit