Chicago City Data User Group — The Impact Genome: Predicting Social Impact

The government and the social sector in philanthropy are the only places in the economy that measure impact only after a program has been funded.  Every other business uses data to predict the impact. The Impact Genome is a universal evidence base to research, evaluate and predict what works in social change. The Genome spans 132 common outcomes across 11 areas of social impact.

The idea is to apply the same concept used in the music genome (think of how Pandora figures out what you like) to a decision-support platform for civic funders and policymakers. It will allow practitioners to build programs using evidence “decoded” by pulling in unstructured data from academic research studies together with existing social policy.  They then use that data to estimate the impact of the programs (and standardize the reporting).  Among other benefits , this project will also allow  for benchmarking and rationalize how resources are allocated.

This short video explains it. And on April 5th, as part of our Chicago City Data User Group, we got to hear Mission Measurement founder Jason Saul talk about the genesis of this project, the data it uses, and the data it will create.

Miss our meetup? Have no fear — we meet on the first Wednesday of each month. You can catch up on what you missed in the Twitter moment below:

Civic Tech in Chicago — April’s Top Events

Spring has sprung! We’re ready to shed our extra layers, head out of the underground, and enjoy the (almost) warm weather. Plus, this month is officially Information Technology Month in Illinois — there’s so much to celebrate!

Embrace the season with us with these top events this month:

All Month

Innovate Lake Erie
Cleveland Water Alliance

The Erie Hack is a data and engineering competition that unites coders, developers, engineers, and water experts to generate enduring solutions to Lake Erie’s biggest challenges. The competition includes $100,000 in prizes for the most creative and effective hacks. Working from challenge statements derived from ideation sessions with NASA representatives and regional stakeholders, teams are charged with creating innovative digital tools, hardware innovations, and engineering solutions that build “the Blue Economy”: the emergent economic sector dedicated to the sustainable stewardship of bodies of freshwater around the globe. The Erie Hack provides regional high school students, college students, and professionals the opportunity to combine their own expertise with solid mentoring to create technologies with the potential to invigorate Lake Erie’s environment and economy.

ITA Tech Challenge Teaser

​In conjunction with the Illinois Governor’s new proclamation that April is Information Technology month, and to provide an additional opportunity to practice your coding and programming skills before the fall Tech Challenge, ITA has launched the Tech Challenge Teaser. This challenge is similar to the Tech Challenge in the fall, but on a smaller scale and is administered 100% virtually between April 3rd and April 14th.

April 4

Chi Hack Night — Smart Green Infrastructure Monitoring
Braintree office 222 W Merchandise Mart Plz 8th Floor, Chicago

Flooding in the Chicagoland area due to excess stormwater has resulted in over 182,000 claims of property damage with a total estimated cost of $735 million over the last five years. This damage is the result of combined sewer system backups into homes and waterbodies.

To alleviate this, the City of Chicago has allocated $50M to augment the combined sewer system with green infrastructure. The program has focused on implementing a combination of traditional and green stormwater infrastructure.

Last year City Digital, part of UI Labs, kicked-off their Smart Green Infrastructure Monitoring pilot that brought together a team including Microsoft, Opti, Senformatics, West Monroe Partners, and AECOM to develop a new collection of technologies to remotely monitor the performance of green infrastructure.

With the City of Chicago, the monitoring technology has been deployed at four green infrastructure sites across the City to monitor the performance of a variety of green infrastructure types, including a bioswale, permeable pavers, infiltration planters, and tree grates.

Adam Hecktman, Microsoft’s Director of Technology & Civic Innovation Chicago, Dana Al-Qadi, Engineer at AECOM and Tom Schenk, Chief Data Officer at the City of Chicago will present details on the pilot formation, solution deployed, and initial findings from this effort.

April 5

The Impact Genome: Predicting Social Impact
6:00pm – 7:00pm
Microsoft Technology Center, Chicago | Aon Center 200 E. Randolph Ste 200, Chicago

Join us on April 5th to hear Mission Measurement founder Jason Saul talk about the genesis of this project, the data it uses, and the data it will create. 6:00pm at the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago.

April 7

ADA Diabetes Innovation Summit
​12:00pm – 5:30pm
MATTER 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1230, Chicago

The American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Innovation Summit promises a unique, interactive and immersive experience focused on building a network of those committed to exploring investable opportunities that will accelerate and catalyze the Association’s mission.  Feedback from the diabetes community will fuel conversations about daily challenges facing individuals living with diabetes.
April 10
Roosevelt @ UIC & ICPR: Who Writes the Rules Matters
11:00am – 12:30pm
UIC Student Services Building 1200 W Harrison, Chicago

Roosevelters know that Who Writes the Rules Matters, so we’re bringing together students and legislators in partnership with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform to figure out how everyone can have a seat at the table. Join us for a panel discussion followed by a collaborative workshop as we seek to understand structural and practical barriers to democratic access for young people.

April 12

April 2017 Chicago International Student Career Fair – Employer RSVP
10:30 AM – 3:30 PM
DeVry University 3300 North Campbell Avenue, Chicago

The Chicago International Student Career Fair will provide a platform for your company to meet hundreds of talented, skilled professionals, students and alumni.

Connect with international professionals and talent from universities. We are confident that this event will provide you with unique access to our talented international students in greater Chicago specializing in business, technology, health sciences, fine arts, architecture, engineering and more.

April 19

Celebrating Hon. Adlai and Nancy Stevenson
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform 500 N Dearborn St, Suite 518, Chicago

On Wednesday, April 19th, ICPR will honor Hon. Adlai and Nancy Stevenson with the Mikva Legacy Award for Truth and Justice at Noon at Petterino’s in Chicago

Judge Mary Mikva will join ICPR to present the Stevensons with this honor for their extensive work in Illinois through advocacy, public service, and the Stevenson Center on Democracy

April 27

Microsoft – Adapting Experiences for Virtual and Mixed Reality
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Tech Nexus (Conference Room C/D) 20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1200, Chicago

The principles used for building a standard 3D experience fundamentally change when considering virtual and mixed reality. New devices such as the Microsoft HoloLens lets users interact with digital content in relation to the real world, disrupting the way we build experiences. This session will explain how to consider these concepts during development as well as introduce the new medium of building 3D Mixed Reality applications and games using C#, Visual Studio, and Unity. Whether itching to build your own applications or enthusiastic about designing for these ever-changing virtual mediums, you’ll walk away with the tools to build your own.

Modernize Your Nonprofit with Software Donations from Microsoft

Our first Modern Nonprofit Day at our Chicago office on March 22 was a success! At Modernize Your Nonprofit, we were pleased to have a wonderful turnout of about 90 attendees from various local nonprofits who joined us to learn about our Microsoft Cloud offerings. They learned how nonprofits can leverage our software donation program to help achieve their company’s missions. The event was a partnership between Microsoft Philanthropies, the Microsoft Citizenship team and Microsoft partner Tech Impact.

Tech Impact shared information about how nonprofits can use Office 365, Azure and PowerBI:

  • Office 365 offers email, shared calendars, file storage and sharing,  productivity apps, online meetings & VoIP phones for nonprofits.
  • Azure offers infrastructure, software and platform as a service in the cloud and a migration away from onsite servers.
  • Power BI can serve as a visualization toolkit that helps nonprofits to better understand and communicate their work to stakeholders.

Photo by Mary Monroy-Spampinato

Miss the training but interested in modernizing your nonprofit? You can still make 2017 the year that your organization lowers technology costs while improving productivity and efficiency. Learn more about our free and discounted services and products — Read case studies about how other nonprofits have benefited from donations, find out if your nonprofit’s is eligible, and get answers to questions you may have at

Our thanks to all who attended the training! We look forward to continue to serve our local communities with our software donations and resources.

Microsoft Philanthropies has committed $1 billion in cloud services for nonprofits and researchers to support the public good and, to date, has donated $465 million to 71,000 organizations. You can read more about this in their impact letter.

Looking at Data through the Lens of Leadership

Most discussions of Data and Open Data tend to the technical side. . . how do you manipulate, massage and create an app for all that gloriously Open Data? Throngs of Data Scientists collaborate virtually, at MeetUps, or at conferences to debate, demonstrate and debunk technical approaches to digesting Data. (nice alliteration!) Recently, at the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy, we had the opportunity to look at Data from a different angle — the Leadership angle.

As our readers know from previous discussions, Microsoft has been a supporter and a great fan of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy (CLA). Now in its third cohort, The Civic Leadership Academy provides training through a six month program and global practicum to emerging and high-potential leaders in nonprofit organizations and local government agencies within the City of Chicago and Cook County. Each year, Microsoft and local experts have had the opportunity to talk to the CLA participants about the importance of understanding the Civic Tech ecosystem, and how to utilize Civic Tech tools and resources to help improve the lives of citizens of Chicago and Cook County. This year, we took a difference approach and focused more on Data and its implications for a Leader.

We worked in partnership with Will Howell, Ph.D. and the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at Chicago Harris and a professor in the Department of Political Science and the College to design our topic: “How do leaders use data to communicate and present insights for key audiences in their efforts to advance their goals?” We invited Danielle DuMerer, Chief Technology Officer and First Deputy Commissioner of the City’s Department of Information Technology (DoIT)  and James Rudyk, Jr. who is the Executive Director of the Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC), a community based organization located in the Belmont Cragin community. James was also in the first cohort of frame the discussion from both the Open Data and the “everyday user” perspective. We thought it would still be a good idea to share some tools that are available to leaders—especially tools that help communicate the insights gained from Data, so we invited Amy Schneider, a certified Microsoft Partner with Netrix, LLC, who provided a short demo on how to take “raw data” and move it into a “visualized resource for advancing goals”.

I began the discussion by introducing the Topic and introducing our panel, and included a very short discussion of the Chicagoland Civic Tech ecosystem and Data. Our focus was to help the CLA cohort learn how to present data to different audiences (city council, board of directors, employee base), how to communicate the data, learning from our panel what works/what doesn’t work. Amy then used a short demonstration of Power BI using data from the CTA and discussed “data as a tool of persuasion.”

She emphasized that there are a wide range of tools can help tell the story that is captured by the data. Amy’s presentation generated a lot of questions, many centered on how Leaders can identify what tools to use, and what personnel skills were needed to “run” the tools. Danielle walked the class through a structured process for accessing data, using and thinking about data as a management and leadership resource. She provided some great examples from the City and had outstanding knowledge about similar capabilities and resources at the County level. James “brought it all home” for the class by discussing his personal experiences as a leader of a nonprofit which had challenges with organizing its Data to serve its client base. Through partnerships with Microsoft and working with his staff, James was able to realize increased efficiency and better management of his client base.

Danielle Dumerer, Chicago CTO

The following were highlights of the very interactive discussion between the panel and the CLA participants:

  1. The role of the civic leader is primarily about leading a team and making solid leadership decisions, not the technical side of using data.
  2. Leaders can and should use data for: decisions, reaching your organization’s goals,  communicating the data (up/down/across/outside the organization), and  presenting data in different ways for different audiences
  3. Leaders should  use data to: drive home a point you want to make, counter an objection,  propel a project forward/get a funder to write a check/expand alliances to reach a common goal, etc.
  4. Data is a tool for persuasion, and for storytelling. Tools like Microsoft’s Power BI, allow you to easily make your data points more visually appealing to your audience. The ability to interact with the data using dynamic filters (i.e. changing date ranges, or showing a single data point within a grouping of points) allows you emphasize supporting data in real time as you tell your story.

Many thanks to our panelists and the terrific CLA participants. The questions continued past our scheduled time, which is a great indication of the high interest level in the topic. As the CLA cohort starts to prepare for their individual Capstone projects, we hope they will look at Data in a different light, and utilize data analysis to document and support their Capstone presentations.

Positive Community Impact Through World Business Chicago’s Fellowship Program

Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago (WBC) drives regional economic growth. WBC is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports business, and promotes Chicago as a leading global city. One key initiative is the WBC Fellowship Program, which engages community and business leaders to advance the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. The Fellowship Program offers an exclusive opportunity for mid-level executives to bring the plan to life. Following the goals and strategies of the plan, Fellows focus on implementation and management of the strategies.

The Fellowship Program is a fabulous way for companies to provide professional development for their employees, while positively impacting the City. From the Fellow perspective, the four-to-six month assignment provides the opportunity to gain a unique understanding of how the public sector works; gain experience working with influential stakeholders; and build lasting connections through the Fellowship Alumni Program.

Microsoft is honored to be a supporter of World Business Chicago and its programs and to have our Corporate VP Dan’l Lewin serving on the WBC Board of Directors. Through our local Technology and Civic Engagement programs, we work closely with WBC to advise on the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, the ChicagoNEXT program, ThinkChicago and the Chicago Venture Summit.

It was my pleasure to join the WBC Fellows on February 7th, for a Fellows Appreciation Breakfast. The purpose of the breakfast was to extend the Fellowship Alumni Program, and thank Fellows from various cohorts (or “waves”) and recognize the Fellows for their invaluable contributions to WBC and the City of Chicago. The hard work and partnership with the Fellows has directly helped the economy of Chicago grow. As WBC President & CEO Jeff Malehorn pointed out, a key differentiating factor is that WBC has evolved its mission statement to include the term “inclusive growth”, because inclusion of marginalized communities and populations, of all types of workers and all types of companies, is a priority for WBC and the City of Chicago.

To bring “inclusive growth” to life for the Fellows, WBC hosted a panel of City, nonprofit and business leaders to share perspectives on the import issue of inclusive growth and how it drives economic growth across the board.

The panel included:

Each panelist described what inclusive growth meant to the City. Shari discussed how the Chicago Urban League is working with the private sector to promote economic growth that focuses on all neighborhoods. Both Andy and Steve shared the challenging discussions and debate that is part of “getting deep” into our neighborhoods to improve economic growth that is inclusive and to find the right community partners and programs that drive change. I discussed how technology and digital access and 21st century skills are crucial to economic development and how Chicago—while a leader nationally—still has some work to do to provide access and skills to all. We also discussed how the civic tech ecosystem is thriving in Chicago and shared some stories on how Open Data in the City provides opportunities for all citizens to participate and use the City’s resources.

The lessons learned from our discussion are:

  • Inclusive economic growth means making decisions and setting priorities such that economic growth reached marginalized populations and communities.
  • Efforts to grow the local economy inclusively probably will not produce a series of quick wins. This is hard work.
  • Patience is required because economic development often requires rethinking systems and reprioritizing long-term outcomes.
  • Steadfast effort and innovation are required along with the focus on inclusive growth.
  • Inclusive economic growth is about both breadth and depth of impact.

Congratulations and THANK YOU to all the Fellows from World Business Chicago. Your dedication of time and talent is making the City of Chicago stronger and healthier.

For more information about applying to the Chicago Economic Growth Fellowship Program, please contact the Manager of Strategic Corporate Partnerships, Ben Berlin at or visit:

Recap — 23rd Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards

Chicago: a City of Neighborhoods. From Roseland to Rogers Park, we’re devoted to helping Chicago come together to grow as one. And there’s no better spotlight of that than the LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA). Held annually, the CNDA recognizes neighborhood initiatives and achievement that promote stronger neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area.

This year (like every year), we were thrilled to attend the 23rd Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards and celebrate the progress Chicago is making, neighborhood to neighborhood.

We’d like to congratulate the winners of this year’s CNDA, including standout awards:

Some highlights from the night (via Twitter):


Civic Tech in Chicago — March’s Top Events

The old saying goes, “In like a lion, out like a lamb” — but we see March as a lion roaring all the way through. Join us for these top events in civic tech this month:

March 2

mHUB Chicago Grand Opening
mHUB 965 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago

Come pay tribute to Chicago’s reigning manufacturing leaders and the visionaries, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will carry that legacy as a beacon for our city well into the future.

March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Chicago Women Developers Hack Night
1871 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor Chicago

This weekly event gives ladies a space to code together. Whether you’re just getting started, or are a veteran in the tech world, there’s a seat for you at the table. BYOL: Bring your own laptop!

You don’t have to be working on any project or learning anything new to come to Hack Night, it’s a great space to just hang out with other women who code.

March 4

Cook County Young Adult Civic Engagement Summit – Disrupters Conference
Rainbow Push Coalition National Headquarters 930 East 50th Street, Chicago

In order to bring forth social impact development, the Commission will be hosting a Summit for Cook County young adults to engage in civic action. This summit is being organized by the Commission’s Social Innovation Human Capital Sub Committee on Young Adult Civic Engagement. The Human Capital Sub Committee are assembling young adults between the ages of 17-26 for the purpose of meeting to network and engage with other civic-minded individuals. The Human Capital Sub Committee will also use this forum to address major concerns of young adults such as; standards of public safety, social impact careers, meaningful workforce development, and educational experiences.

Open Data Day – DeKalb 2017
Campus Life Building |  Northern Illinois University 545 Lucinda Ave. (Normal Rd.), DeKalb

Join community members, students, local leaders, and avid technologists as they come together to innovate and code during Open Data Day – DeKalb 2017. Northern Illinois University STEAM Works is proud to host its second Open Data Day in DeKalb.

Open Data Day – DeKalb 2017 will take place March 4th at NIU and coincides with International Open Data Day. The goal of Open Data Day is to inspire residents everywhere to get actively involved in their community.

Who should get involved? Anyone with a passion for social justice and desire to utilize open data and technology to solve wicked issues.

March 7, 14, 21, 28

Chi Hack Night
Braintree office 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!

March 8

Small Business Advisory Council Venture Pitch Session
mHUB Event Space 965 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago

Join us for an SBAC Venture Pitch Session, hosted by mHUB, where aspiring entrepreneurs and mid-sized businesses in growth mode will showcase their businesses. Three businesses will be selected to pitch in front of a prestigious panel of judges and receive feedback. This event includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, appetizers and networking followed by three pitches from startup companies out of the Chicagoland area.

Illinois Innovation Index: Press Event
University of Chicago Polsky Exchange North, 1452 E. 53rd St, 2nd floor, Chicago

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) and our university partners cordially invite you to a press event on Wednesday, March 8th at 1PM, celebrating the release of our annual Illinois Innovation Index report, detailing the record growth of university startup creation, technology transfer and funding trends.

Tech Madness Bracket Reveal (ChicagoInno)
Chicago Sports Museum 835 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago

This March, Chicago Inno is bringing the tech community together for some healthy competition… bracket-style. The goal of Tech Madness is to generate awareness and excitement for the city’s top tech players, from the “favorites” (late-stage tech pillars) to the “diaper dandies” (seed round startups).

March 9

ITA Women in Tech Leadership Exchange (SOLD OUT)

​Join us for our first Women in Tech Leadership Exchange of 2017! This event is exclusively for women in technology positions or women at technology enabled companies that are director level or above.

March 10

Startup Weekend Chicago Maker Edition At mHUB
mHUB Event Space 965 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago

Startup Weekend Chicago is kicking off 2017 with Startup Weekend: Maker Edition! What does Maker Edition mean? Participants will pitch startup ideas that include the development of a physical product or software+ (delivery system). No, you don’t need to be a Maker to participate. Successful startups leverage a team of diverse skill sets including business, marketing, tech development, and design!

March 13

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program Info Session
Whitney M. Young Magnet High School 211 South Laflin Street | Room 277, Chicago

Learn more about the FREE 7-week summer programs for current 10th-11th grade girls to learn 
coding and get exposure to tech jobs.

March 14

Opportunity Youth Summit
Chicago Cultural Center 78 E. Washington St., Chicago

Join Mayor Emanuel and Thrive Chicago at the Opportunity Youth Summit on March 14, 2017 to drive collaborative action. Led by Thrive Chicago, a working group of nonprofits, foundations, city agencies, youth leaders, educators, and researchers developed citywide recommendations to connect out of school and out of work youth aged 16-24 to jobs and education.

March 16-17

Tech For Justice Hackathon+ Veterans
Hilton Chicago – Salon B 720 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Tech for Justice Hackathon+ Veterans will bring together Nonprofit Advocates, Legal Aid Organizations, Private Lawyers, Technologists, Students, Educators, Counselors, Activists, Businesses, Entrepreneurs, Public Housing Officials, State and City Representatives, Judges, and more, to come up with innovative and transparent solutions, supporting technologies, and plans for implementation with initiative collaborators and partners.

March 21

2017 AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup
mHUB Event Space 965 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago

The AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup is a pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups. We’re touring 7 cities around the US to find and highlight the most promising physical product startups in the nation. Winners in each city will receive $3k cash, a 1 year license to Solidworks, and other prizes, as well as a chance to win a $50,000 convertible-debt investment from Startbot VC at the National Finals in April.

March 22

World Water Day
West Monroe Partners 222 W. Adams St, 11th Floor, Chicago

To commemorate World Water Day 2017, West Monroe Partners will convene a diverse group of industry leaders to discuss the risks posed to businesses because of water scarcity, quality and flooding.

March 23

Women in Tech: Inclusive Workplaces
kCura 231 South La Salle Street, 8th Floor, Chicago

A panel of tech team leads and managers will discuss how they cultivated a working environment that’s friendly and inclusive to all genders.

March 24

Chicago Tech Happy
Tantrum 1023 South State Street, Chicago

Tech Happy is a monthly networking event for Chicago tech entrepreeurs, professionals, and influencers.

March 28

Cracking the Code on Diversity & Inclusion in Chicago Tech: #DandIThinkTank
1871 222 w Merchandise Mart Plaza Suite 1212, Chicago

Think Like A Startup :: Cracking the Code on Diversity and Inclusion in Chicago Tech, is a 90 minute “think tank” style workshop. #DandIThinkTank brings together startup founders, investors, tech executives, tech professionals, students, and other stakeholders in Chicago’s tech ecosystem for a CANDID working session.

Fireside Chat with Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft
Polsky Exchange 1452 E 53rd St, Washington Park Classroom, Chicago

Please join the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for a Fireside Chat with Dan’l Lewin with Professor Mark Tebbe. In a career spanning over 30 years in Silicon Valley, Lewin helped launch the Macintosh into the higher education market at Apple Computer, co-founded NeXT with Steve Jobs, and joined Microsoft in 2001. As Corporate Vice President, Lewin leads Microsoft’s work in technology and civic engagement, including campaign technologies, environmental sustainability, policy-oriented academic outreach, and university relations. He will discuss his career path through a changing Silicon Valley, his thoughts on the technology industry’s strengths and weaknesses, and the relationship between the Civic Tech movement and today’s political climate.

Civic Tech in Chicago — February’s Top Events

Love may be in the air this February, but around Microsoft Chicago, civic tech is in the air every day. Join us at these events around the metro area this month to stay engaged:

February 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Chicago Women Developers Weekly Hack Night
1871 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor, Chicago

This weekly event gives ladies a space to code together. Whether you’re just getting started, or are a veteran in the tech world, there’s a seat for you at the table. BYOL: Bring your own laptop!

February 5

1919 Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship Demo Day IV & Spring Informational
Blue 1647 Tech Innovation Center 1647 South Blue Island Avenue, Chicago

Our 4th round of cohorts have graduated and are excited to present their final projects! The ladies of 1919 will display the skills they have learned to family, friends and all who attend. It will be a celebration of skill development for the 75 women who have completed their 12 weeks of learning.

February 8

Chicago SQL Server User Group – February 2017 Meeting
Aon Center | Microsoft Technology Center 200 East Randolph Drive, Suite 200, Chicago

Azure SQL Database is a relational database service in the Microsoft cloud-based Microsoft SQL Server engine and capable of handling mission-critical workloads. SQL Database delivers predictable performance at multiple service levels, dynamic scalability with no downtime, built-in business continuity, and data protection with near-zero administration. SQL Database is based on the SQL Server engine, SQL Database supports existing SQL Server tools, libraries, and APIs, making SQL Server to Azure SQL migrations easy. Learn what it takes to manage, administer, monitor, develop with Azure SQL Database. Also how you can migrate your SQL Server to Azure SQL Database.

February 9

Cleantech University Prize 2017 – Midwest Showcase
Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation 1452 East 53rd Street, Chicago

Clean Energy Trust will showcase eight of the most innovative and promising university-based cleantech companies in the Midwest for a chance to win the Department of Energy’s Cleantech University Prize.

February 16

Dashboard in a Day – Power BI Workshop
Aon Center | Microsoft Technology Center 200 East Randolph Drive, Suite 200, Chicago

Dashboard in a Day (DIAD) is a training event that Softweb Solutions is hosting in collaboration with Microsoft to educate professionals on how they can use Power BI in their businesses.

The workshop is meant for beginners as well as users with intermediate level skills and the goal is to give all the attendees a solid foundational knowledge of Power BI and a working dashboard of their data.

February 22

Design for Sustainability
Mightybytes 4001 N. Ravenswood, Suite 404, Chicago

The internet is becoming the world’s largest source of CO2 emissions. 560,000 agencies around the world make daily design decisions on behalf of their clients, directly impacting internet sustainability. By applying sustainability principles to the process of designing digital products and services, we can make better decisions on behalf of people and planet. Come hear Tim Frick – author of Designing for Sustainability – as he outlines strategies to make sustainability an integral part of your product design and development. He’ll also discuss a design framework for sustainability and tactics to implement in day to day digital work to keep sustainability in the forefront of the process.

February 22-25

Adler Planetarium Mardi Gras Celebration
Adler Planetarium 1300 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Dust off your spacesuit. It’s time to celebrate Mars-di Gras!

While the commonly-known Earthly festivities of Mardi Gras bring street festivals, masquerades, merriment, and lots of colorful beads to cities around the world, the Adler takes the festivities one giant step forward—TO SPACE!

We’re saying goodbye to Earth and heading to Mars for an out-of-this-world event. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, the Adler super krewe is organizing another Mars-di Gras extravaganza.

Once again, we will bring the beads, band, and the science to this carnival of fun. You’ll be transported to the Red Planet, masquerade as the first Martians and experience first-hand what it would be like to live, work, and play on Mars.

February 24

Science Is Cool Conference
Malcolm X College 1900 West Jackson Boulevard Conference Center, Chicago

The Science is Cool Conference is an initiative of the Pipeline to Careers in Healthcare, Predominantly Black Institution Grant, at Malcolm X College. It is a bi-annual conference that specifically targets 5th through 8th grade African American students from Chicago area schools. As a premier student based conference, Science is Cool is a unique opportunity because it promotes, demystifies, and raises students exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

February 28

What the Heck are Bots?
Northwestern Knight Lab Fisk Hall, 1845 Sheridan Rd, Evanston

Instead of R2D2 and BB-8, most of the bots people talk about these days don’t have a body. Come “talk” to some “intelligent agents” and discuss what their value might be.

In the Knight Lab’s “What the Heck is …?” series, you’ll get a chance to try new technologies and be part of a conversation about the cultural implications they may have.

Civic Tech in Chicago — January’s Top Events


2017 is here and we’re ready to dive head-first back into civic tech. Join us as we work toward another incredible year, starting with these top picks for events in January:

January 4

Chicago City Data User Group: Data and the Environmental Defense Fund
Microsoft Technology Center Chicago | Aon Center 200 E. Randolph Ste 200, Chicago

The mission of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is quite simple: We work to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends.  Climate, energy, oceans, human health, and the policy that impacts it all – all within the scope of the research and advocacy of the EDF.  EDF has a special take on environmental issues – they are interested in creating solutions that also carry economic benefits.

Of course, all of this requires data.  And ideally, it contributes new data and insights.  Come hear Ellen Bell discuss the work of the EDF.  Ellen manages the Redefining Energy Efficiency Project.

January 10

DePaul’s Employer Workshop Series: Leveraging Alumni for Recruitment

The Employer Workshop Series is brought to you by DePaul’s Employer and Internship Development Team. This free series of events offers our employer partners the opportunity to think strategically about their recruiting and hiring processes, learn new ways to enhance their recruiting efforts and network and exchange ideas with other organizations.

Chi Hack Night
Braintree office 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!

January 12

ThoughtWorks Chicago: Build Your Own Radar
ThoughtWorks 200 East Randolph St. 25th Floor, Chicago

Chef or Ansible? Learn React Native or jump into Swift? Which techniques are hot and which are not?

Join ThoughtWorks for a night of food, drink, and mingling as we explore how technologists can grapple with these questions and make smart choices about the tools, techniques, frameworks, and languages they use in their projects.

Our speakers will talk about the themes behind the ThoughtWorks Technology Radar, which compiles years of experience across different domains to provide well thought-out opinions on many of the trends that are coming and going today. You’ll finish off the night by learning how to build your own radar and how to use it as a tool to help you and your projects.

January 17

Blue 1647 1647 S. Blue Island, Chicago

Are you a veteran or college student? Maybe a high school junior or senior with an interest in a future in computer technology? Compete in a day-long hackathon to win prizes – no experience necessary. Also, learn about cybersecurity jobs in the Chicago area and new cyber programs at City Colleges of Chicago.

Chi Hack Night
Braintree office 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!

January 24

Illinois Campaign Contributions: Is the Sky the Limit?
The Flats at East-West University 829 South Wabash Avenue 4th Floor Auditorium, Chicago

Please join ICPR for an open discussion with experts on 2016 campaign spending in Illinois and how it compares to other states.

Chi Hack Night
Braintree office 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!

Adler Planetarium: Behind the scenes
Adler Planetarium 1300 S Lake Shore Dr Chicago

Curators and educators at Adler Planetarium take us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the cosmology museum and the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy.
Head Curator Pedro Raposo and staff will present some of the rare artifacts that are kept in museum’s collections and discuss the history and care of artifacts. The remainder of the session will develop as a conversation between science writers and curators about the stories that may be told.

January 31

Chi Hack Night
Braintree office 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!

Year in Review: 2016 in Civic Tech


What a year 2016 was! From implementing computer science as a graduation requirement in Chicago’s schools to the Cubs winning a world series, we’ve stayed on our toes as new, exciting things continue to transform our community.

A look back at an amazing year on the Microsoft Chicago Blog:


Big Shoulders: Billy Banks, Associate Director of The Garage at Northwestern University

Academic accelerators are the next big thing and Northwestern University is jumping on the band wagon with the creation of The Garage. Billy Banks, Associate Director of The Garage at Northwestern University, discussed with Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman this venture in inspiring students and professors to explore entrepreneurship.

Kevin Wei_FellowFellow Profile: Kevin Wei

Every year, we gain an incredible cohort of civic technology fellows who inspire us through their hard work and dedication to utilize technology in local government and community applications. With each step forward our fellows make, we help make Chicago more interconnected through technology. Meet one of them, Kevin Wei.


10Voices Of Change — #LookUp! Space is Freaking Awesome
Michelle B. Larson, President and CEO, Adler Planetarium 

Diversity and inclusion are critical underpinnings to our evolving culture at Microsoft and powerful bridges to the marketplace. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we were honored to celebrate women in our community who are carrying out the mission of civic engagement, leadership and empowering other women. One of those women is Michelle B. Larson, President and CEO at Adler Planetarium.


Opti_UChicago_Illustration1Opti RTC: Managing Sustainability at UChicago

Our Azure partner Opti uses new technology approaches to managing stormwater and sewage runoff. Through smart green infrastructure monitoring, Opti has built a new monitoring system at UChicago that gathers data on water and helps manage runoff for better infrastructure.

How the Internet of Things can Prevent Bullying
Shelley Stern Grach

As part of our ongoing partnership with Lake View High School, an Early College STEM School in Chicago, Microsoft supports the Illinois Science & Technology Institute’s STEM Challenge, where students at 19 Illinois high schools address real-world problems in partnership with 10 industry and academic partners. While at one of their brainstorming mentoring sessions, Shelley Stern Grach met with students using IoT to combat bullying.


ITKAN teams up with Microsoft and Directions to deliver SQL Server/Business Intelligence training!
Adam Hecktman and Pat Maher

ITKAN, a professional organization affiliated with the Illinois Technology Foundation, whose mission is to develop passionate IT professionals with disabilities, partnered with Microsoft’s Technology & Civic Engagement team in Chicago, as well as Directions – a nationwide leader in IT, business and enterprise training solutions and one of only 12 Microsoft Gold Managed Learning partners – to train and secure professional positions for a class of (6) ITKAN members.

Mayor's Office for People With DisabilitiesMaking Chicago The Most Accessible City in the Nation
Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)

“Making Chicago The Most Accessible City in the Nation” is the tag line and mission of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) where Karen Tamley serves as Commissioner. She highlighted MOPD’s work and took time reflect on how far our city, our nation and her life experience has changed for the better.


CaptureIntroducing the DigiSeniors Program
Kevin Wei, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

The Microsoft Chicago Civic Engagement and Retail Store teams were hard at work with the leading individuals and agencies of the City of Chicago to develop a curriculum to help senior citizens get the basic digital skills, access and safety knowledge that they need to keep up with the ever-evolving technology world. After nearly a year’s worth of development, feedback, pilot sessions, Microsoft Chicago was happy to announce the launch of the DigiSeniors curriculum.

PowerBI Visualization: Community takes Commitment
Ivoire Morrell, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

In the first of a three-part series on Detroit Crime statistics, causes and potential solutions, Microsoft’s Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell shared a powerful story of the history, economic impact and future narratives of Detroit’s most economically depressed communities. It is our hope that by shining a spotlight on the raw data, and illustrating the impact on Detroiters, that we can together build a stronger future.


ew_incubatorUncovering Advanced Science, Technology, and Startups at the University of Illinois Research Park
Adam J. Hecktman

Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman toured University of Illinois Research Park, where both enterprise companies and startups bask in the glow of advanced science and research. Laura Freichs, the Director of Research Park, guided him on a tour and meeting with researchers.


2016-11-11The Character of the American Veteran: My Project RELO Experience
Adam J. Hecktman

Project RELO is a non-profit that brings business leaders together with veterans on a multi-day series of “missions” on a military base. For a short three days, business leaders live what can only be described as a glimpse of the military experience. Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman attended and witnessed the kind of deep professional education, personal development, character building and intellectual challenges that have defined their military careers.

Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: PJ Karafiol, Interim Principal at Lake View High School

As part of our commitment to STEM and technology, we’re thankful to partner with local schools in Chicago that are embracing technology in their curricula and day-to-day processes. One of these schools is Lake View High School (LVHS), one of Chicago’s Early College STEM Schools, which enables students to earn both a high school diploma and college credits. Microsoft Chicago’s Shelley Stern Grach sat down with PJ Karafiol, Lake View High School’s newest interim principal.


python-sh-600x600Learning Python to Celebrate #CSEdWeek
Adam J. Hecktman

The goal of the annual Computer Science Education Week is primarily to inspire students to take the time to learn about computer science, specifically coding. Microsoft Chicago’s Adam J. Hecktman celebrated Computer Science Education Week this year by diving in deep himself and took on the challenge to learn to code with Python.

Thank you to all who joined us in sharing the important stories that shape our community. Let’s work together for an incredible 2017.