On May 16, once again, thousands of Chicagoans held civic and community conversations while breaking bread with old friends and new. The Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table is an annual forum designed to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships and inspire collaborative action across the region. I now officially declare the Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table program to be an official phenomenon.

phe·nom·e·non

[fəˈnäməˌnän, fəˈnäməˌnən]
NOUN
phenomena (plural noun)

  • a remarkable person, thing, or event.

synonyms: marvel · sensation · wonder · prodigy · miracle · rarity · nonpareil ·

Microsoft was again honored to both host and attend several On the Table programs, each one focused on Civic Tech and Civic Engagement, with a different dialog and audience. We began the day by hosting a research readout and panel with mySociety addressing New findings: What We’ve Learned About Civic Tech in Cities. Specifically, mySociety has researched five case studies of civic tech projects deployed by U.S. cities in recent years and found implications for broader changes to service delivery. Nearly 50 attendees joined our table to hear more details from the study’s authors, as well as national leaders in municipal civic tech. Once the panel finished their remarks, the audience contributed their experience to an actionable conversation. We’d like to thank the following for traveling to Chicago to join our On the Table program:

  • Moderator, Emily Shaw, Senior Implementation Advisor at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University
  • Richa Agarwal, Software developer, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and former Code for America fellow
  • Demond Drummer, CoderSpace
  • Rebecca Rumbul, Director of Research, mySociety

For more information on the mySociety’s research on Civic Tech in Cities, please see the complete research.

With a minor pause in the late morning, we then had the pleasure of hosting the ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Chicago team for a more intimate, roundtable discussion. This On the Table was also held at the Microsoft Technology Center and co-hosted by Steve Solomon of Exelon and Commissioner Karen Tamley. Our goal was to broaden the awareness about this cutting edge program that is building a network of leaders with disabilities and adding a new dimension of diversity to Chicago’s civic life: ADA 25 Advancing Leadership. ADA 25 Advancing Leadership is the first program of its kind in the nation designed specifically to ensure that Chicago’s vibrant civic and professional life fully includes leaders with disabilities. The continuous work of connecting its Members network with opportunities to serve as leaders is known as the Civic Connections Project. At our lunch, we brainstormed opportunities to connect our members into civic positions ranging from committees, task forces, associates boards, boards of directors and more.

To learn more about the program, I invite you to visit their website and watch this short video capturing the importance of this initiative through the lens of it participants.

If you are interested in learning more about ADA 25 Advancing Leadership on a regular basis, please join our Facebook pages.

Happy Monday to everyone! Last week, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership hosted an event to get feedback on recruiting for this…

Posted by ADA 25 Advancing Leadership on Monday, May 22, 2017

The final On the Table of this very busy day was hosted by Denise Linn and Sonja Marziano of Smart Chicago and Connect Chicago. Since the launch of On the Table, participants have indicated that equity and social inclusion were among the most frequent topics of discussion at the events they attended.

So, this year, organizers suggested that equity be part of these conversations. Because equity is at the heart of our collective work, The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning, The Hive Chicago Learning Network and the Smart Chicago Collaborative joined together to host a “multi-table” event focusing on Digital Equity in Education. Youth Digital Equity is the social-justice goal of ensuring that all young people have equal access and opportunities to use technology tools, computers and the Internet as well as the knowledge and skills to use them effectively. The aim is to bring new and different voices to the table, while having a fun, easy conversation with great food! The evening event was held at Northeastern Center for College Access and Success at 770 North Halsted. What an amazing resource and facility! The space was overflowing and the organizers wildly exceeded their target.

Congratulations to the Chicago Community Trust for their inspirational On the Table Program that is now a phenomenon in the region. And a special thank you to mySociety, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, the Hive Chicago Fund, the Hive Chicago Learning Network and the Smart Chicago Collaborative, for the great dedication and work you do every day to make Chicagoland a center for innovation, digital equity and collaboration.

As the weather gets warmer, spring brings a blog post combining two great things in the City of Chicago: bike-sharing and open data! Since June 2013, Divvy has been Chicago’s official bike-sharing system. You can’t miss the brightly blue-colored bikes and numerous docking stations scattered across the city. With over 6,000 bikes available at 580+ […]

Microsoft has been partnering with the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (ISTI) for three years on the STEM Challenge, along with our Early College STEM School, Lake View High School. This year, we added Corliss High School as a second Early College STEM School and invited Corliss to participate in the Challenge as well. Instead […]