Latest Smart Chicago Collaborative News
Aug 16, 2016
Tweet By Gordon Dymowski, Monday at 8:44 pm (Special thanks to Toni Irving of GetIN Chicago and Kyla Williams of Smart Chicago Collaborative for their time and insights). On August 5th, graduation ceremonies were held for a group of 100 teenagers who learned web coding and other computer skills. These teens participated in a program called Youth-Led Tech , which provided seven classes at five sites throughout select Chicago neighborhoods. Youth-Led Tech is the result of a strong collaboration between GetIn Chicago (focused on programs which provide evidence-based outcomes around poverty, young people, and their families) and the Smart Chicago Collaborative (which works on improving lives of Chicago residents through technology), Youth-Led Tech is a program that deserves greater advocacy, and greater awareness...in short, Youth-Led Tech is an innovative, forward-thinking approach to both digital excellence and community development. Much of this is due to GetIn Chicago and Smart Chicago Collaborative finding common ground - and room for collaboration - in their missions. One of the key determinants was a focus on developing technological skills and moving away from a purely "social service" approach. Technology is a growing field, with the potential for the number of technology jobs outpacing the number of qualified applicants by 2026. But GetIn Chicago and Smart Chicago Collaborative faced another challenge - with technological literacy comes related skills, including general literacy. So Youth-Led Tech had to integrate a diverse range of approaches - technology, workforce development, and communication - into a robust, aggressive curriculum. But Youth-Led Tech also took a holistic approach to teaching youth about technology, focusing on all aspects of a youth's life. For example, part of the curriculum involved entrepreneurial and job search skills to insure that participants could utilize their skills after completing the course. Another key aspect that GetIN Chicago and Smart Chicago Collaborative integrated into Youth-Led Tech was that results were measurable (deliverable outcomes) and youth feeling invested in the program (their voices are heard). Building on the initial collaboration, Youth-Led Tech also sought out other champions, including Microsoft (who provided laptops for graduates of the program), as well as organizations, small businesses, and local champions. Part of Youth-Led Tech's goal was to provide youth the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial efforts - to use a metaphor, to not only teach youth how to fish, but to say, "We're teaching you to fish - here's the rod. " By combining technology skills with other, more basic professional skills (such as networking and business development), Youth-Led Tech has created a very powerful strategy for community development, workforce development, and driving small business entrepreneurship. Teens were not only encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial skills, they were encouraged to network with local businesses. Other organizations like Teamwork Englewood, Greater Englewood CDC, Cisco, and Microsoft were also brought on board. (In fact, Microsoft provided laptops for youth during the program, which youth received as a "reward" for successful completion). Participants in Youth-Led Tech were encouraged to create sites and social media channels for local businesses - examples of work performed by youth in each neighborhood includes: Jadin Moreno (North Lawndale): https://bannerspixelart.