Englewood Blue: A Movement

| Shelley Stern Grach




  1. a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas:

“the labor movement”

synonyms: political group · party · faction · wing · lobby · camp

  • a campaign undertaken by a group of people working together:

“a movement to declare war on poverty”

synonyms: campaign · crusade · drive · push

About 6 months ago, my colleague Adam Hecktman said, you really need to meet these guys at Englewood Blue….they’ve really got some good things going on. Springboarding from the great success of Blue 1647, the team behind Greater Englewood Community Development Corp (CDC) and Blue 1647 established a collaborative business accelerator called Englewood Blue, which is focused on economic development, small business growth, and  bringing tech skills to the community, all in a great place/space in the US Bank Building, across from the new Whole Foods at 63rd and Halstead.


On Friday, Microsoft had the honor to host a “launch event” for our new Digital Alliance with Englewood Blue. We have spotlighted this great partnership with Alderman Willie Cochran and the team at Greater Englewood CDC and Englewood Blue in our recent blog and Adam captured the highlights of the day in this great electronic scrapbook using Sway. Clearly, Adam was right. They’ve really got great things going on there…today I wanted to reflect on why it’s working in Englewood.

 a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas

Englewood Blue has a committed team of professionals, who have deep experience and success in the business world. Glen brings the prior experience of the corporate tech world and is the visionary and negotiator—relentless in his passion for Englewood and pushing all the buttons and using all the resources to continue to move the program forward.Bruce MontgomeryBruce is a known (renowned) professional in both the tech field and a media expert. When I say that he says, “let’s take that hill” and never stops until the hill is conquered, I’m understating his passion. Bruce has a deep network of tech and media resources, and brings authority and gravitas to the discussions about Englewood Blue.

Jim is the community lead—present at local events, always a smile on his face, and just like Glen and Bruce, has his messaging on point, unyielding in his passion, and consistent and timely in his follow up.

They have a great, involved Board which supports their mission. EVERY time I have been to an event at Englewood Blue, their Board Chair George Wright is there to support the program, lend his background story and his optimistic vision for the future of Englewood.

The list goes on…Maurice….Jennipher….Kelsye….the entire team is in harmony, with focus and an obsession for getting it right and getting it done.

 a campaign undertaken by a group of people working together


Englewood Blue has a plan. And they execute on their plan. Their focus is local economic development, with a heavy emphasis on digital access, and technology skills to change the way Englewood residents think about their career choices. One of the most strategic elements of the Digital Alliance partnership is an ongoing “movement” to create more tech-literate citizens in Englewood. In partnership with Jennifer Didier and her great team at Directions Training, Microsoft and Englewood Blue, we are running a 3 part Train the Trainer program to provide digital skills that focus on the Cloud to members of the Englewood Blue staff and other residents. The goal is for this first cohort to become the nucleus of the movement…literally, the trainers who will train others on 21st century skills, enable Englewood residents to start new tech-based companies, and continue the momentum forward. And forward….and forward….



It’s people with a vision

It’s people with the passion

It’s people who have a plan

It’s people who care.

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Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.