July 2016

Envision Chicago — A new Civic Program from The OpenGov Foundation

The student winners of #EnvisionChicago. Photo by @ComcastILLINOIS.

You know that saying about big oaks growing from little acorns? We are growing some beautiful, big oaks in Chicago which will continue to flourish and spread their branches for years to come.

This past year, Microsoft and other organizations partnered with The OpenGov Foundation on a new program, Envision Chicago. The goal of the program is to provide scholarships and hands-on teaching of civics to the next generation of local, young leaders through positive, personal and tech-powered civic engagement.   Microsoft was honored to be one of the supporters of Envision and we partnered with our Early College STEM School, Lake View High School. In partnership with City Clerk Susana Mendoza and Lake View Alderman Ameya Pawar, the students participated in a program that focused on municipal code and the ChicagoCode.org website, and learned how their ideas could become law on the Chicago City Council.

Each student focused on an issue that they personally cared about, and four winning student ideas were recognized on July 20th at the City Council meeting. In addition, each student selected received a $1000 scholarship.

This year’s pilot was only the beginning. We learned how to bring elected officials into a local, neighborhood school and get real time student feedback. We learned how to use technology to review, adjust and recommend improvements in the City code. We learned what a “wow” impact it is to bring our youth into the inner sanctum of City Council Chambers and observe a Council meeting at work.

Our thanks to City Clerk Mendoza, Aldermen Roberto Maldonado, Carrie Austin, Anthony Napolitano and Ameya Pawar and their staffs for their support and participation. Special thanks to The OpenGov Foundation team Julia Ellis, Meag Doherty, Nicko Margolies and Seamus Kraft. Special shoutout to our teachers and faculty at Lake View High School for their willingness to pilot a new program. We’re really looking forward to seeing this “acorn” grow and watch our high school youth experience civics on the live stage and become true leaders in the democratic process.

We’ve included some of the top tweets from #EnvisionChicago here:


Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: Brenda Wilkerson, Chicago Public Schools

Brenda Wilkerson

Over the years, we have had the delight of working with Chicago Public Schools on their Computer Science For All initiative, bringing skills training directly to Chicago’s students to help bridge the skills gap. Through the work of plenty of incredible players, including Brenda Wilkerson, the City of Chicago is now filled with students interested in and engaged in computer science education.

In Shelley Stern Grach’s latest Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods, her and Brenda Wilkerson discuss this initiative and how it is transforming Chicago.

Watch Shelley’s chat with Brenda live on Advisor.tv.

Smart Chicago is Helping Build CUTGroup Detroit

One of the best things about the Civic Tech community is the willingness to collaborate and share best practices. The Microsoft Chicago team has had the pleasure of partnering with the Smart Chicago Collaborative on many community programs to expand civic tech and civic engagement in Chicago over the past few years. Now we have the excitement of partnering with Smart Chicago in the launch of CUTGroup Detroit. Our Detroit-based team member is Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell, who has been working with Data Driven Detroit and the City of Detroit on this program. We will update you as the launch progresses, and please follow @CUTGroupDetroit on Twitter for the latest updates.

— Shelley Stern Grach

City-of-DetroitWe are excited to announce that Smart Chicago is partnering with the City of Detroit, Data Driven Detroit, and Microsoft, to help build the first Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup) in Detroit. This is part of our CUTGroup Collective efforts to convene organizations and institutions in cities to help others establish new CUTGroups, create a new community, and share and learn from one another.

In April, we announced we would conduct UX testing on websites and tools that use data that is part of the White House’s Opportunity Project initiative. “The Opportunity Project expands access to opportunity for all Americans by putting data and digital tools in the hands of families, communities, and local leaders, to help them navigate information about the resources they need to thrive.” While we initially wanted to align this work with the national efforts of National Day of Civic Hacking, we quickly learned that we needed to take smaller steps to building a CUTGroup and planning for a test in another city. We began planning with Detroit, one of our CUTGroup Collective members, and a city that has curated data related to opportunity as part of the Opportunity Project.

In the last months, I have been working closely with the CUTGroup Detroit team to share ideas and insights from our CUTGroup experiences in Chicago. We have discussed recruitment and communications strategies, as well as test planning and design. In the upcoming weeks, Detroit will begin recruitment and in mid-August, we will conduct a test around a tool that helps people understand more about commercial or other non-residential properties in Detroit.

This work with Detroit is the start of an ongoing relationship through the CUTGroup Collective. Smart Chicago plans to be available to help CUTGroup Detroit grow and create better technology and where we will learn from Detroit experiences to help other cities build CUTGroups.


I am overwhelmed by the support and hard work of our Detroit partners to make this happen. I wanted to acknowledge them here:

First, we are grateful to the Knight Foundation, which makes the CUTGroup Collective possible. They are funding this work through our Deep Dive, where we are part of a cohort representing a diverse set of approaches to expanding community information and increasing community engagement.

The City of Detroit and Garlin Gilchrist, Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology, is leading the strategy and vision of CUTGroup Detroit.

Data Driven Detroit (D3) is managing the recruitment and logistics of CUTGroup. D3 is an organization that provides accessible high-quality information and analysis that drives informed decision-making. Our appreciation for their involvement goes to Erica Raleigh, Executive Director, Noah Urban, Project Lead & Senior Analyst, Kibichii Chelilim, Data Manager & Programmer, and Boitshoko Molefhi, the MSU InnovateGov Summer Intern.

Microsoft is extending their support for Civic Tech in both Chicago and Detroit to focus on CUTGroup Detroit. Microsoft’s Detroit Civic Tech Fellow, Ivoire Morrell, has been a key person in planning and putting together the pieces in building CUTGroup Detroit. Ivoire works closely with Shelley Stern Grach, Microsoft’s Director of Civic Engagement, who always provides important insights in every conversation and who made CUTGroup Detroit part of Ivoire’s project plan.

We are excited about what we can do together and look forward to sharing what we learn this summer!

Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods — A Series on Chicago Public Library


Libraries are fundamental to keeping our cities, towns, and neighborhoods educated and connected. Chicago Public Library (CPL) is exemplary in this, bringing top-notch and up-to-date education and resources to each community it reaches. Over the past few months, we’ve been honored to host CPL leaders in STEM, technology, and community engagement on Shelley Stern Grach’s Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods.

We’ve gathered all of Shelley’s CPL Conversations into one video to highlight the amazing work CPL is doing to bring our neighborhoods together and to enrich them one student at a time. Watch live below:

Our full series:

Watch all of Shelley Stern Grach’s Civic Chats on Advisor.TV.

AccessChicago, the Midwest’s Premier Exhibition of Products and Services for People with Disabilities

AccessChicago Banner (1)

This week, Microsoft Chicago and our Retail Store team had the pleasure to participate in AccessChicago, hosted by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). AccessChicago brought in nearly 2000 attendees to meet with nearly 100 businesses, government organizations and nonprofits who serve and support people with disabilities. At Microsoft, we create and deliver technology that is accessible and functional for all people of all ages. And we will continue to push the boundaries of what technology can do to empower every person on the planet. The Microsoft team was showcasing the various Accessibility capabilities of Windows 10. To learn more about the built-in assistive technologies in Windows 10 visit the following how-to topics:

Shelley AccessChicagoThe program included educational sessions, activities and games, workshops on Health; Therapeutic Art; Cooking;  Medicare/Social Security; sports including golf, judo and bowling; and special programming for children. There were resources on all kinds of technology and full size buses to demonstrate lifts and accessible transportation options. Best of all, we ran into some good friends, including Steve Luker (@1armedgeek) and Bill O’Connor and Ken Skord, both of AbilityLinks, a program of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital.

Many thanks to Commissioner Karen Tamley (@karentamley) for bringing this important program to our attention. This was indeed a celebration of the community and a recognition of the 26th anniversary of the passage of the American Disabilities Act.

WP_20160713_10_52_52_ProIf you want to learn more about resources, especially about how technology can positively impact people with disabilities, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Sign up to a great Facebook group: Technology and Disabilities
  • Follow @ITKANChicago on Twitter. This is a great organization which  develops Professionals with Disabilities into passionate Technology leaders.
  • Come to an ITKAN meeting! Great food and even better conversation.

Browse our Tweets below….check out the smiles and the positive interaction. Join our community!

Think like a Designer — Re-imagining the Museum of Science and Industry

The World’s Columbian Exposition, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing in America, was  held in 1893 in Chicago. The exposition occupied 630 acres in Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance. The main site was bounded by Stony Island Avenue on the west, 67th Street on the south, Lake Michigan on the east, and 56th Street on the north. Planners selected a classical architectural theme for the fair. The buildings housed 65 exhibits that followed the theme of the building. Some of the more popular exhibits were curiosities rather than serious displays of technology and progress. They included an eleven-ton cheese and a 1,500 pound chocolate Venus de Milo in the Hall of Agriculture and a seventy-foot-high tower of light bulbs in the Electricity Building. The world’s first Ferris Wheel, invented by George W. Ferris, was also on the Midway. The 250-foot high steel structure had 36 cars carrying 60 persons each.


More than 200 buildings occupied the exposition’s grounds; today, only one remains. Like most of the other buildings, the Palace of Fine Arts had exterior walls of staff, a temporary building material made from plaster of paris and hemp fiber. It housed the Field Columbian Museum after the fair’s closing until 1920. During the late 1920s, the building was reduced to its steel skeleton and brick interior walls and rebuilt in stone. The structure was opened again to the public as the Museum of Science and Industry in 1931.


Fast forward to 2016. You are part of a team who have been asked to re-imagine how to use this spectacular space at the Museum, now known as MSI. The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago — one of the largest science museums in the world — is home to more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity. This local and national treasure could bring countless STEM resources to Chicagoland with a 21st century facelift — in design, in content, in outreach to the tens of thousands that visit each year and to the neighborhoods and children of the city of Chicago. In an age of Pokémon GO and virtual reality, what would you do to help MSI? Microsoft Chicago is honored to be included in an ongoing redesign of MSI Chicago as part of a group of civic leaders. The following is a glimpse into the process and the challenge — and opportunity — for this iconic resource.

Think like a designer.

First, find a group of really interesting  people, who are passionate about MSI in all aspects: board supporters, scientists, designers, corporate supporters, world-class foundations and so forth. Second, bring in top talent from IDEO-a global design company. Their mission: “We create impact through design.” Third, engage these smart people in fun, creative and thought-provoking dialog. Take the time to really think it through.

Envision all aspects of MSI, now and in the future:

  • Have Empathy for people who will visit
  • Imagine the Stories you want MSI visitors to learn and to tell
  • Observe and reflect on what the values of MSI are…and should be
  • Consider what are the new,  future constraints for MSI as a building, as a center of innovation? (If any….)
  • Create an enduring vision for next decade…and the next. To inspire and motivate our children…and our children’s children.
  • Re-imagine almost everything. How the space can be used? How can we  extend the MSI experience outside of our walls, deeper into the community?
  • What are our values and how do we activate them? How do we make MSI a living demonstration of our mission?

Think about the outcomes for our Families, Teachers and Children who experience MSI. Let’s target  50% learning and 50% fun! Think about how MSI can help influence and inspire careers in STEM by exposing our visitors to the future and share different experiences that can’t find elsewhere.

  • A promising future
  • A Tech-enabled  future
  • A world of virtual and augmented reality, intertwining “real” life and potential enhancements
  • Enhance family togetherness — unplug, touch experiences, interact, inter-relate
  • Shared social experiences
  • Have fun! “Science is a blast”.
  • Learning experiences with Science Teachers, where:
    • Failure is ok
    • Students experience messy, hands on, open ended investigation
    • Students see themselves in science /STEM

In order to truly experience this redesign beyond team brainstorming and sticky notes, each of us last week was assigned to a group of individuals with different backgrounds and we had a “site visit” of several exhibits to think through the different “Personas” that MSI brings out in each of us. Are you a Tinkerer, Pathfinder, Provocateur, or  Futurist? Or do you change your role (as many of us do) depending on what you see and how you react? For example, the Fab Lab is tightly linked to Tinkerers. But what about the classic Coal Mine? Perhaps a Pathfinder in the 1940s and 1950s, but what does it mean today? Can the Coal Mine be re-imagined as the baseline of Energy and fueling mankind and can it be re-imagined as part of a natural resources ecosystem that now includes wind and solar.

FAB Lab photo from Bing

FAB Lab photo from Bing

Coal Mine Photo from Bing

Coal Mine Photo from Bing

All too soon, the site visit experience concluded. We brought our ideas back to the larger team and shared our ideas and the potential to be unlocked. No final conclusions just yet! Innovation, invention and re-imagining take time. Can’t wait to attend the next IDEO session to see what’s next.

Kids Learn to Code at Saint Francis High School With YouthSpark


Break free from the summer slump this year and keep your kids engaged in STEM! Through our partnership with Saint Francis High School (SFHS), we’re excited to announce that SFHS is hosting YouthSpark Summer Camps to the school for children aged 8-13. These camps will be run on July 18, 19, 20, and 21, exposing young students to early computer science education that is both in-depth and entertaining.

Students aged 8-10 can review game designs and then learn about the code behind them, including learning coding fundamentals and building a game of their own.

Students aged 11-13 learn how creativity and problem solving come together to make something all your own, including basic code reading and writing.

All campers partake in an Hour of Code and end the camp with a site showcase, offering a chance to share and describe their website with other campers.

Saint Francis High School is offering the following courses:

  • kodu-game-labKodu Makerspace – Kids age 8 to 11 can create rich and exciting games with Kodu Game Lab in this beginner-level camp. Kids learn coding fundamentals and how to build games in a fun, hands-on environment that fosters creativity, curiosity, and collaboration.
  • flatverseLearn to Code Flatverse – Recommended for kids 12 and older, students can build a Flatverse game using TouchDevelop in this intermediate-level camp. Kids learn coding fundamentals, then get hands-on instruction on how to read and write basic code themselves.

Register now at SFHS.8to18.com.

Points of Light — Creating a More Authentic Detroit


Let’s get real and talk honestly about urban challenges and what we can do to make things better. That’s what we did this past week at the Points of Light 2016 Conference on Volunteering and Service, which brought together thousands of community volunteers to Detroit on June 27-29 at the Cobo Center. It is the largest service-related convening of nonprofit, government, business and civic leaders in the world. They gathered to learn, share and get inspired — to increase the number of volunteers in the world and the impact of the work they do. cobo-centerI’m SO thrilled this program was held in Detroit this year, as Detroit reminds us it is the strength of people uniting in service that can change communities. It is out of challenging times that we demonstrate the determination and unfailing spirit of Detroit — a remarkable city and extraordinary example of community resiliency and citizen leadership.

I’d first like to thank our dear friend and colleague Megan Christenson, who is the Director of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator (@civicacceleratr). Megan was one of the leads for the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovator Track, which focused on helping the attendees to learn how disruptive technologies and innovation change the way people mobilize to meet their social mission. I had the honor to moderate a distinguished (and energetic!) panel, “Spotlight on Detroit” — Take a peek under the hood of one of America’s fastest evolving cities. We discussed with government, private and nonprofit stakeholders, how people in Detroit come together to build an unstoppable culture of social innovation.


<strong>Panelists (L-R)</strong>: Phil Cooley, Co-Owner Slows Bar B Q & Ponyride | Garlin Gilchrist II, Director, Innovation & Emerging Technology for the City of Detroit Department of Innovation and Technology | Adrian Ohmer, Principal, Invest Detroit Ventures | <strong>Moderator</strong>: Shelley Stern Grach, Microsoft Chicago

Our session  was designed to “lift up and spotlight” the great energy going on in Detroit and especially how collaboration and public/private partnerships can accelerate innovation. We also wanted to clear up any mis-perceptions about the “old Detroit narrative” and highlight innovation and creativity as best practices to expand within Detroit and beyond Detroit.  We started with some level setting on recent Detroit history.

  • In 2013, the city of Detroit became the largest US city to declare bankruptcy. Once one of the fastest growing and most prosperous metro areas in the US, the media quickly painted Detroit as the poster child for America’s slow recovery from the economic recession.
  • Through public-private partnerships, there has been nearly $3 Billion in investment and community-led redevelopment efforts in recent years.
  • There is still work to be done, especially when it comes to employment.  The region has not been able to reach 2001 levels for jobs in automobile manufacturing, largely due to increased automation and improved technology that make it easier to manufacture goods with fewer workers.
  • Technological shifts encourage growth in more highly skilled occupations, such as engineering and IT. In fact, architecture and engineering jobs grew 28% between 2009 and 2013, computer and mathematical jobs grew 14%, and management jobs grew 9% — demonstrating that the quality of jobs in Detroit is improving, even if the region has not caught up to pre-recession job counts.
  • Unfortunately, the really bad news is the 30 percent unemployment rate for Detroit Metro youth (ages 16-21) — the highest among large metropolitan areas in the country (Source: Social Science Research Council).
  • The numbers are more staggering when looking at the City of Detroit itself. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of youth ages 16-19 who are in the labor force are unemployed. (Source: American Community Survey 2011)

Our panel really tackled these issues head on. We focused on the “3 C’s: Culture, Challenges and Community.” Here’s a sampling of some of the discussion points.

  • Culture: Detroit has long been a city of innovators. How does this culture affect or inspire your work and your investments in Detroit?  What is different about the Detroit culture of innovation from other cities?
  • Challenges: Many say that the greatest innovations arise from within great constraints. How have recent constraints in Detroit (economic, social, political, etc.) allowed for new solutions or insights? The role of talent in innovation has been highlighted as probably the biggest challenge: What is/isn’t being done to address the talent pipeline in Detroit? What gaps / opportunities exist? How does this affect the long viability of Detroit? Does Detroit need a breakthrough for more investments in Detroit? What will be the “signal” to drive investments? What types of capital markets exist (or need to exist) to ensure that great startups are bred and remain in Detroit?
  • Community: As a rapidly evolving city, what community trends do you see (or expect to see) and how will this affect the city moving forward?  Role of Civic Engagement – how do community and citizens play a role in innovation in the city of Detroit? Who are the key NGO leaders? How does public Education (DPS) need to play a role to sustain economic viability?
  • Our summary discussion focused on the future: What is the “New Narrative of Detroit” and how is it changing in the city’s recovery?

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 4.22.08 PM

Our panelists pointed out that while Detroit has had some special challenges that have been highlighted in the media, the basic urban challenges of transportation, strong public schools, fixing urban blight and delivering City services apply to nearly all large urban metropolitan areas. Public education, unfortunately, is a countrywide problem. Transportation was singled out as a key, long term challenge for the Motor City — incredibly ironic that the birthplace of motorized transportation has been a lagging adopter. But, we had a lively discussion about how transportation is a changing/diminishing requirement for Goofy Goobers … one panelist said “if a car is necessary to do the basic things I need to do in my daily life, I won’t live there.” Witness self-driving cars and the rise of ride sharing.

There was a strong, mutual feeling that native Detroiters like to “come home” and be part of the rebirth and reinvention of Detroit. Sometimes it’s accomplished through investment and money, sometimes it’s supporting social enterprise growth, and perhaps most importantly, sometimes it’s making the deliberate choice to raise your family and educate your children in the City.

So, how do we all help write the new narrative for Detroit? Here are some great ideas:

  1. Invest in Detroit. Support NGO’s and certified Community Development Financial Institutions like Invest Detroit to fund economic and community development in underserved communities.
  2. Embrace Changemakers. Partner and support those who define the central mission of their lives around issues of social justice and artistic activism. Our closing plenary showcased stories of young people around the world who positively impacted our world through creativity, entrepreneurialism and sheer talent. Detroit has tremendous local talent and can do the same.
  3. Become a model of reinvention. Use all kinds of media (traditional, social, human narrative, etc.) to tell the stories of local Detroiters who are impacting the vector of the City.
  4. Increase storytelling capacity. Detroit can redefine its story through the Internet—by providing universal access and digital skills, we can multiply the positive storytelling exponentially.
  5. Understand this takes some time, is complicated and messy. But if we do it “right,” we’ll recognize the results and learn and grow.

Not Your Usual Hackathon: B-STEM’s We Hack Too


It’s no big news that there’s a gender gap in today’s workforce. We hear it all the time, that we need to bridge the divide of women in tech and business. So how do we fix that? We start at the most basic foundation of starting any kind of change: we get the foot inside the door! That’s exactly what B-STEM’s “We Hack Too” event did for young girls and women across the world.

On June 24, in Microsoft Stores across the nation (and virtual participants in Bolivia, Finland, and more!), girls had a space to develop their own business plan and get more comfortable working with technology and coding. I volunteered as a mentor and judge, but I discovered that these girls needed no help at all in proving that the next generation of women already have the skills necessary to take on the challenges in taking on the business and tech.

When you first hear of an event called a “hackathon,” a common image is the room filled with college guys drinking energy drinks and eating from scattered pizza boxes while staying up all night to hack government servers. This event challenged this perception in the best way possible.

Besides the obvious aspect that this room was filled with high-school girls, it was amazing to see not only the coding aspects emphasized, but the entire package of what it takes to succeed in the business and tech world: the customer analysis, the marketing, the presentation, and so much more.

We Hack Too recognized that tech skills are only a piece of the puzzle; by encouraging girls to develop a fully-fledged business plan, they communicated that women aren’t only needed as developers or coders, but in every other part of the workforce world (can anyone guess what the “B” in B-STEM stands for?).

Have you ever seen Shark Tank or an 1871 start-up pitch? B-STEM’s high-school girls presented their community solution with an understanding of skills that experienced businessmen and college students still struggle with. You had self-sustaining revenue models, legal considerations, and most of all, confidence.

We Hack Too had a concrete goal to create a solution to solve a community problem, and the quality of the projects that the girls put out were amazing. But under it all, the core principle of this hackathon was to inspire confidence within these girls and breaking down the imaginary wall that had constantly told them that business and tech is solely reserved for men. It was so inspiring to see what successes can happen in <12 hours. Not only did these girls make friends, build valuable hard and soft skills, but they finally became comfortable enough with themselves to say: “I can do this!”

It’s important to recognize the importance of environment and its role in helping the girls to fail, learn, and succeed in a comfortable environment. Microsoft, B-STEM, Kelly OCG, and other partners took part in making sure that We Hack Too was a space for the next generation of female leaders to realize that not only do they have the skills necessary to compete, but they are needed more than ever. But you know what? Teaching skills and confidence is easy. The hard part is the first step of getting girls through the door and allowing them space to grow in spite of the words “hackathon” and the surrounding business/tech stigma.

There’s still a long way to go, but collaborations between organizations like B-STEM and Microsoft are proving that we have the right people working on workforce diversity.

You can find more tweets at @bstemproject and #wehacktoo.

Civic Tech in Chicago — July’s Top Events


July in Chicago — while some may dub it the dog days of summer, we’re moving forward like a fierce feline, keeping our schedules full and bringing technology to every corner of the city. Join us for our top picks for events this July:

July 5

Chi Hack Night
6:00pm — 10:00pm
Braintree Payments 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza 8th Floor, Chicago

The Chi Hack Night is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about civic tech and tools to create, support, or serve public good.

Join us every Tuesday from 6-10pm on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart to hear from interesting speakers, learn from each other and work on civic projects. Non-techies are very welcome!

July 6

Chicago City Data User Group — DIY Analytics
6:00pm — 7:30pm
Microsoft Technology Center 200 East Randolph Street #200, Chicago

With the advent of self-service, open-source and freemium predictive analytics it’s never been easier or less expensive to jump in and start doing data analysis yourself.  Whether you’re an interested alderman, city department head, student or 3rd party interested in the public sector, perhaps it’s time for you to determine what the future holds by examining the Chicago City data yourself.  As President John F. Kennedy stated “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”.

Reid Karabush of Decision Systems will discuss how the City of Boston MA took the initiative and started using self-service, predictive analytics to analyze 311 call center data, and how you too can use self-service, open-source and freemium predictive analytics to examine the City of Chicago’s future.

July 7

WiSTEM Spring 2016 Showcase
6:00pm — 8:30pm
1871 – Auditorium 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor Chicago

Come join us at 1871 for a night of pitches and networking, hosted by WiSTEM, 1871’s program for women entrepreneurs.  This Showcase will feature the startups from our Spring cohort.

WiSTEM is 1871’s program designed to foster opportunities for women in technology – connecting women entrepreneurs to capital, community and technology resources. The 16-week curriculum-based program offers a tailored experience –a rigorous yet flexible program structured around the challenges and opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs.

July 12

Digital Politics: New technology in motion
Online Webinar

This month on Modern Workplace, watch Digital Politics: New technology in motion, airing July 12th at 8:00 AM PDT / 3:00 PM GMT. Get a first-hand look at some of the new tools and innovations being put to the test in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

  • Stan Freck shares some of the tech innovations being used in political campaigns, including how new apps are informing an electoral process that is over 100 years old.
  • Patrick Stewart discusses how data visualization is playing a crucial role in the 2016 election cycle and takes a look at some of the emerging technologies.

July 12

Chi Hack Night
6:00pm — 10:00pm
Braintree Payments 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza 8th Floor, Chicago

The Chi Hack Night is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about civic tech and tools to create, support, or serve public good.

Join us every Tuesday from 6-10pm on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart to hear from interesting speakers, learn from each other and work on civic projects. Non-techies are very welcome!

July 13

10:00am — 5:00pm
Navy Pier, Festival Hall A 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago

AccessChicago is the perfect event for people with disabilities of all ages and disabilities!

  • Test products, learn about new and existing services and connect with community organizations to learn about available disability-related social services.
  • Participate in new activities; such as cooking demos and interactive therapeutic art sessions.
  • Take part in various adaptive sports and recreational demonstrations.
  • Receive free health screenings in our health pavilion.
  • Discount parking will be provided.
  • Great family event! Fun activities for children!

July 13

July 2016 Founders’ Stories with David Kalt of Reverb
6:00pm — 8:00pm
1871 – Auditorium 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor Chicago

1871 is proud to host David Kalt, founder of Reverb, at their July taping of Chicago Founders’ Stories on Weds, July 13!

About David:

David is founder and CEO of Reverb.com, an online marketplace for used, vintage and handmade guitars and gear, and owner of the Chicago Music Exchange, one of the world’s largest vintage guitar dealers. David’s background is a blend between entrepreneurship, building technology firms, and a passion for music and gear. Prior to Chicago Music Exchange and Reverb, David was CEO and Co-Founder of online broker optionsXpress, which he took public back in 2005. Like most good businesses, David started Reverb based on his frustrations buying and selling guitars online. Next challenge? Make buying and selling used gear a fun, easy and painless experience..

Check out the amazing founders that have joined us at Chicago Founders’ Stories by visiting Pat Ryan’s blog at http://www.coolerbythelake.com

July 14

Azure 101: Is it Time to Get Your Head in the Cloud?
Online Webinar

Presenter: Senior Technical Instructor, Ben Culbertson
Is it time to get your head in the cloud? Join our event and learn all about Azure!

July 14

ITKAN Monthly Meeting
5:00pm — 7:00pm
Microsoft Technology Center 200 East Randolph Street #200, Chicago

Join us at the MTC July 14th as Adam Hecktman, Microsoft’s Director of Technology & Civic Innovation for Chicago, and Pat Maher, Director of Civic Engagement at SPR, discuss civic innovation and technology in Chicago and ways that it is impacting the disability community along with other historically marginalized groups and opening up channels of change and influence. See civic tech in action as Steve Luker, longtime ITKAN member, and Patrick Sier present the award-winning ChiSafePath mobile app from the 5th Annual CNT Urban Sustainability Apps Competition!

July 19

Chi Hack Night
6:00pm — 10:00pm
Braintree Payments 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza 8th Floor, Chicago

The Chi Hack Night is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about civic tech and tools to create, support, or serve public good.

Join us every Tuesday from 6-10pm on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart to hear from interesting speakers, learn from each other and work on civic projects. Non-techies are very welcome!

July 26

Chi Hack Night
6:00pm — 10:00pm
Braintree Payments 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza 8th Floor, Chicago

The Chi Hack Night is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about civic tech and tools to create, support, or serve public good.

Join us every Tuesday from 6-10pm on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart to hear from interesting speakers, learn from each other and work on civic projects. Non-techies are very welcome!

July 27 — 29

ThinkChicago at Lollapalooza

Chicago is a hub of tech innovation, a booming center for cutting edge companies to thrive – where young entrepreneurs grow big ideas, transform industries and shape technology and business as we know it.

From July 27-29th, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lollapalooza, World Business Chicago, and the University of Illinois will invite 200 university students from across the country to tour Chicago’s fast-growing tech scene.

Attendees of the ThinkChicago program will have a chance to visit business headquarters, directly engage with entrepreneurs and leaders of some of today’s most innovative tech companies, and attend the 4-day Lollapalooza music festival.

July 29

10:00am — 2:00pm
Illinois Institute of Technology Tech Park Idea Shop 3440 S. Dearborn St, Suite 050, Chicago

Professionals from the Chicago area are invited to attend as Guests or Feedback Judges to provide valuable feedback to our students. IPRO Day is a great opportunity to network with other professionals who are passionate about education, engineering, and design while interacting with some of the most talented students in the U.S. and learning about cutting-edge research at IIT. The IPRO Day event is the culmination of IPRO team work via exhibits. See IPRO Team descriptions here: http://ipro.iit.edu/project-listings/current-projects.

July 29

Microsoft’s New Computer Training for Seniors & CPL’s Digital Learn Platform

At the next Connect Chicago Meetup, we’ll be learning about two new technology training resources available in Chicago: Microsoft’s new Computer Training for Seniors & the Chicago Public Library’s Digital Learn Platform. Lunch will be served.

Come meet and network with computer trainers, nonprofit professionals,  technologists, and fellow residents who care about digital access & skills in Chicago. Learn about these new resources in Chicago and how you can incorporate them into your work and mission.