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Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: Kathleen Murphy, Director of Communications, Forefront

It’s no secret that Microsoft Chicago loves Forefront. Our own Shelley Stern is on its board, and we’ve spotlighted Forefront on our blog, our social media channels, and more over the past few years. The organization, previously called Donors Forum, is Illinois’ only regional association for both nonprofits and foundations, where organizations that provide social impact can garner support through financial contributions, consultation, and outreach.

In Shelley Stern Grach’s latest Civic Chat: Networking Our Neighborhoods, she sits down with Kathleen Murphy, Forefront’s Director of Communications, to discuss Forefront’s growth. The two focus on IL Give, a campaign to increase individual giving to Illinois charitable organizations.

Watch Shelley’s chat with Kathleen live on Advisor.TV.

Round 2: CUTGroup Detroit

Back at it with one civic user test already under the belt, on February 2nd, the CUTGroup Detroit crew convened for another round of civic user testing with Detroit residents at Motor City’s premier business innovation hub, TechTown Detroit. Partnering with Detroit Ledger, a philanthropic organization that provides data about grants given to different Detroit organizations (particularly nonprofits), for our second go-around, the CUTGroup team proctored user tests built around the usability and functionality of the Detroit Ledger website. The goal of the testing was to determine the ease of use around locating information about Community Development Block Grants and to determine what changes can be implemented to improve the usability and functionality of the website.

After prepping our testing location with an array of snacks (warning: if you are attempting to lose weight, do not become a CUTGroup tester!) and setting up our testing stations, we launched our first series of tests at 4:00pm. The level of excitement to begin testing was off the charts for both proctors and for Detroit citizens! The first unit of testers contained a mix of familiar faces from our first CUTGroup test along with a few new faces. After signing in and loading up on snacks, our testers were assigned to one our five outstanding proctors listed below:

The biggest testing rush came during our 4:45pm time slot where we had five testers stationed with our proctors, testing the Detroit Ledger website, and providing insightful feedback. During this huge rush, I took a brief break from my administrative duties to shoot a brief video with my colleague and friend, Dmitri Pivtorak (Digital Strategist, Milo Detroit). After a few failed takes (not used to being in front of the camera) I channeled my inner Denzel Washington and we captured a solid video documenting our civic user testing experience.

After our 4:45pm rush, the testing slowed down for about 45 minutes before picking back up around 6:15pm. More new faces showed up for our tests and after the experience with the proctor, they were ecstatic about sharing CUTGroup Detroit with people in their community. One tester took about 20 fliers that she said she will share with her community group.

The second CUTGroup Detroit testing experience was a huge success! We had 75% tester attendance which was a huge surprise considering the blistering cold temperatures that night. We also had a total of five new CUTGroup Detroit testers who all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the testing experience. Our partners Jessica McInchak and Benjamin Chodoroff from the Detroit Ledger were ecstatic about the feedback gathered from the CUTGroup testing experience. Both expressed how the information obtained from the testers will go into directly improving their website and how CUTGroupDetroit gave them the platform to conduct the most user testing they have ever had on their website.

On behalf of the entire CUTGroup Detroit team, I would like to send a big thank you to all of the community testers that came out that night. Your persistence and passion for improving Detroit’s civic tech ecosystem is self-evident. The feedback you all provided is priceless and we appreciate your commitment to improving civic tech. We would also like to send a big thank you to all CUTGroup Detroit testers who are eagerly awaiting their opportunity to participate. CUTGroup Detroit is impossible without all of you. We appreciate your patience and hope to host you at one of the CUTGroup tests soon.

Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to the Detroit Ledger. It was a pleasure working with your organization to plan a successful second CUTGroup Detroit test; we hope the feedback garnered from the test lead to an enhanced platform and ultimately enhancing civic technology in Detroit.

Big Shoulders: Matt Wolf, Managing Director, Dandelion

Dandelion works with cities to help communities achieve access to opportunities and to activate underutilized assets in neighborhoods. Early on, this was the team that helped Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan get elected in a storied campaign (the campaign brought him to a 2013 primary victory as a write-in candidate). It consists of a tactical team of designers, developers, content creators, project managers and others who wrap their talent around civic projects. They establish trust with limited-budget clients such as non-profits, private foundations, and governments, and leverage that trust to “deploy new ideas” in cities. And they have deployed more than 100 of those projects in the last 5 years. Now they are bringing that experience and those skills to Chicago. Watch Matt Wolf from Dandelion talk in my latest Big Shoulders about place-based projects for economic development and those around creative re-use.

Watch Adam’s chat with Mike live on Advisor.tv.

Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods: Darlene Hightower, Associate Vice President, Community Engagement And Practice, Rush Medical Center

How can we leverage healthcare to build our local communities? At Rush Medical Center, that’s a priority, not just as an academic hospital, but also as a facility that directly contributes to Chicago’s thriving community.

Shelley Stern Grach’s latest Civic Chat — Networking Our Neighborhoods features Darlene Hightower, Associate Vice President, Community Engagement And Practice, Rush Medical Center. Together, they discuss Rush Medical Center’s focus on building the Chicago community by working on the affordable care act, the anchor mission strategy, and total health collaborative.

Watch Shelley’s chat with Darlene live now on Advisor.tv:

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
6:00pm
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
3:00pm-5:00pm
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
5:30pm-8:00pm
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
2:00pm-7:00pm
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
8:30am-5:00pm
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
6:00pm
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
9:30am-4:00pm
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
10:00am-12:30pm
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?
3:00pm-4:00pm
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.

Welcoming UChicago’s 2017 Civic Leadership Academy Cohort

The CLA (Civic Leadership Academy) class of 2017 welcome reception is held at the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday, Jan., 11, 2017, in Chicago. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

In 2017, Microsoft is once again honored to be partner with the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy (CLA). This is our third year supporting the CLA program and each year, we see an increase in the depth and maturing of the program curriculum, as well as the caliber of the cohort participants. For those of you who may not be aware, the Office of Civic Engagement launched the Civic Leadership Academy in 2014, in partnership with the University’s five professional schools – Chicago Booth School of Business, Harris Public Policy, Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, the UChicago Law School, and School of Social Service Administration – and Institute of Politics, as well as Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) Chicago, Civic Consulting Alliance, the City of Chicago, and Cook County.

On Jan. 12, the 30 fellows began a rigorous six-month program that will teach essential leadership skills and provide the time and space to collaborate on a capstone project that addresses a practical challenge facing each fellow’s organization. In March, the fellows will travel to the University of Chicago Center in Delhi, India, for a weeklong global practicum. Upon completion of the program, they will receive a certificate in civic leadership from Harris.

This is the first in a series which will focus on the CLA, and how it lays the foundation for leadership and communication across Chicago and Cook County with civic, public sector and nonprofits leaders. I am privileged to be working with William Howell, faculty advisor for the Civic Leadership Academy, and the Office of Civic Engagement staff on a program for the cohort on February 10, which will focus on leadership and civic tech, as well as to be accompanying the cohort to India for their global practicum in March.

Please see below social media from the January 11, 2017 Welcome Reception for the 2017 Civic Leadership Academy participants.

Lake View High School Kicks Off 2017 STEM Challenge — This Year, A Focus on Civic Engagement

Microsoft mentor Larry Kuhn workshops with Lake View students. Credit: ISTI

A new year usually means making lots of changes — sometimes simply for the sake of change. My view is that when you have a program that is working extraordinarily well, keep those changes to a minimum and continue the positive momentum. That is exactly what PJ Karafiol, Principal, and Tyrese Graham, Assistant Principal of Lake View High School have done with the 2017 STEM Challenge, sponsored by Microsoft and managed in partnership with the Illinois Science and Technology Institute (ISTI).

Microsoft has supported Lake View in the STEM Challenge for the past two years. As we enter into our third year of the Challenge, we decided to keep the focus on the same challenge as last year: “How can the Internet of Things (IoT) help the Lake View Community?” Since this is a broad challenge, it allows tremendous freedom for the students to look at the benefits of IoT from a physical school perspective, a community perspective, or a civic perspective (such as transportation, logistics, etc.). Similarly, Microsoft is funding the Challenge process, and is bringing in a great set of employees to be mentors during. The cycle kicked off on January 17th with an auditorium filled with students, faculty and mentors, as well as a design workshop to increase student collaboration and communications.

Lake View students workshop designs at the STEM Challenge. Credit: Shelley Stern Grach

So, what is new and different?

This year, the program will be integrated into the Civics classes. As you may know, Civics is a required class for all Illinois students, thanks to strong support from the McCormick Foundation and the State.

Bringing the STEM Challenge into the Civics classes offers the program to more students because it is a wider scope than technology. While we certainly don’t want to lose the “STEM” part of STEM Challenge, the focus is more on the civic engagement aspect of the solution — technology is a key enabler, but technology alone can’t solve a key community problem. It’s the integration of creativity, collaboration and communications with technology that will prove the most effective.

Duane Davis, ISTI’s STEM Challenge coach, gives feedback to students. Credit: ISTI

We gave the students a few more hints for success:

  1. Make the most of your time with your mentors
  2. Use the Mentor Matching Engine, designed by ISTI, frequently. The mentors love the flexibility to interact with the students on line as well as in person.
  3. As you build your solutions, in addition to the documentation, PowerPoints and verbal presentations, try to include something more physical in your design — perhaps a diorama, a model, something electronic or robotic.

It’s early in the process for this new group participating in the STEM Challenge. But if the energy and interest evident at the Kickoff is any indication, this will be the best STEM Challenge yet!

Below are some of the best tweets from the Kickoff.

 

Residential Property Analysis: Motor City Mapping

The economic turmoil in the city of Detroit has devastated the housing market. Over the years, the conditions of many homes across the city have slowly eroded from dense, stable neighborhoods to blighted, barely-habitable structures. As buildings and neighborhoods have deteriorated, more families have vacated their homes in pursuit of destinations with more opportunity. This has left many architecturally-sound homes that are in good condition, unoccupied due to the “blight” of the surrounding environment.

In order to change the narrative that is taking place with the residential housing market in different Detroit communities, Data Driven Detroit (D3) and LOVELAND joined forces to develop the Motor City Mapping project (MCM), conducting the largest public data collection initiative in the history of Detroit. With the support of Rock Ventures, The Kresge Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, JP Morgan Chase, Michigan Nonprofit Association, and other amazing organizations, D3 hired over 200 Detroit resident surveyors to conduct a parcel by parcel survey of Detroit properties using LOVELAND’S mobile surveying application.

With hard work, diligence, and in the snowiest winter in Detroit’s recorded history, the team collected data from approximately 380,000 structures in Detroit, ranging from the condition of the structure to the occupancy of the structure. The cumulative efforts of the different parties lead to the development and launch of the Motor City Mapping online website which displays a map of the different Detroit properties by neighborhood with an in-depth breakdown of the structures in each community. The goal of the MCM portal was to create a comprehensive database of detailed information including the condition of each and every property of Detroit that would allow policy makers/community organizers to make analytical decision making when it comes to the redevelopment of different Detroit communities.

The research conducted by these different parties is the basis of my PowerBI presentation titled: MCM Residential Property Analysis. Using the 2009 Detroit Residential Parcel Survey (DRPS) dataset (details the information about the residential properties surveyed in 2009) and the 2014 MCM dataset (details the information about same residential properties surveyed in 2009, along with commercial properties), both extracted from Data Driven Detroit, I created visualizations using Microsoft’s PowerBI to compare the changes in residential properties for both years. The objective of this analysis was to determine how the residential housing stock in the city has changed from 2009 to 2014 and to offer some innovative strategies that the city of Detroit could apply to rebuild the housing market.

visual-1-1

The visual above displays information comparing the changes in Detroit residential properties from 2009 to 2014. Table 1.1 (Top-Left) shows detailed information about each residential property surveyed in both years, comparing the changes in the housing conditions. Information in this table includes the properties’ address, neighborhood, the property condition 2009, the property condition in 2014, and the whether or not the property has improved, declined, or maintained condition. Table 1.2 (Top-Right) displays the total amount of homes that have maintained, improved, or have declined in condition rating between the initial survey in 2009 and the most recent survey in 2014. According to the data, 190,876 homes have maintained condition, 26,508 homes have declined, and 17,425 homes have improved from 2009 to 2014.

The four graphs on the bottom of this visual display the conditional changes of all the residential properties surveyed from 2009 to 2014.  Graph 1.3 (Bottom-Left) shows in 2009, 1,468 homes were suggested for demolition (the worst condition rating) compared to 2014 where 4,042 homes were suggested to be demolished (an increase of 2,574 residential properties). Table 1.4 (2nd from left) shows that in 2009, 5,992 residential properties were in poor condition compared to 2014 where 8041 properties were determined to be in a similar condition (an increase of 2,049 residential properties). Table 1.5 (3rd from left) shows that in 2009, 21,357 homes were determined to be in fair condition compared to 2014 where 27,546 homes were in a similar state (an increase of 6,189 residential properties). Table 1.6 (Bottom-Right) shows that in 2009, 205,996 homes were measured to be in good condition compared to 2014 where 203,992 homes were determined in a similar state (decrease of 2,004 residential properties).

The data from these different charts show that the quality of residential properties has declined since 2009. More homes have declined than have improved since 2009, showing (as most Detroiters know) that there is much more to accomplish in order to improve the housing market. One of the biggest statistics that jumps out to me is the increase of homes suggested for demolition from 2009 to 2014. The number of homes basically tripled in this housing condition state, showing the severity of the housing decline from 2009 to 2014.

visual-2

The second visual posted above displays more information from the MCM data, with a detailed focus on residential properties by neighborhood. Table 2.1 (Top-Left) is a slicer tool that contains the different neighborhoods surveyed in the MCM dataset. When selecting a checkbox (or checkboxes) for the displayed neighborhoods, the information in the other tables related to the selected neighborhoods are highlighted. Below is an example of using this tool when selecting the neighborhoods Conner, Denby, and Tireman (To reference the Master Plan Neighborhoods mentioned in this dataset, click here).

visual-3

Table 2.2 (second from left) is a treemap that displays the number of properties that have declined in condition by neighborhood. The five neighborhoods where the most residential properties declined were:

  1. Tireman (1,417)
  2. Conner (1,274)
  3. Mt. Olivet (1,254)
  4. Mackenzie (1,167)
  5. Harmony Village (1,105).

Table 2.3 (Top-Right) shows the number of residential properties that are in poor and suggest demolition conditions by neighborhood. The five neighborhoods with the most homes in these conditions were:

  1. Tireman (806)
  2. Conner (696)
  3. Davison (534)
  4. Chadsey (485)
  5. Brighmoor (463)

Table 2.3 (Bottom-Left) shows the number of unoccupied homes by neighborhood in 2014. This table includes the name of the different neighborhoods and the number of structures unoccupied by number of housing units. This table could be used to build neighborhood redevelopment strategies based on the number of unoccupied residential units. For example, there are large amounts of unoccupied single unit homes in nearly all of the surveyed neighborhoods, which would be ideal for young couples and single parent families. To attract individuals to live in these neighborhoods, strategies should be implemented to make these particular neighborhoods more attractive to small families including making these homes more affordable, as well as injecting these communities with after-hour establishments for the entertainment of young couples, parks/community centers for parents to take their children, and other institutions.

Table 2.4 (Bottom-Middle) displays details about the different homes that have fire damage according to the 2014 survey. This table includes the property’s address, zip code, unit type, neighborhood, and the current condition of the property. Table 2.5 (Bottom-right) shows information on the number of homes that needed boarding by neighborhood in 2014. The five communities that have the most properties in need of boarding were:

  1. Conner (1,617)
  2. Tireman (1,428)
  3. Mackenzie (1,248)
  4. Burbank (1,195)
  5. Mt. Olivet (1,163)

The tables presented in this visual show the Detroit neighborhoods that should be focal points when it comes rebuilding the residential housing market in the Motor City based on the declining conditions of residential properties. The common trend I see in three of the five tables is with the neighborhoods of Conner and Tireman. These two communities have the highest number of declining residential properties, the most residential properties in poor/suggested demolition condition, and the largest number of residential properties that need boarding. These are definitely two communities where additional intervention is required.

One program that generates great optimism in regards to the Detroit residential housing market is the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative. Established by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), Bank of America, Opportunity Resource Fund, and the City of Detroit, this outstanding collaborative makes home ownership a reality through the creation of a remarkable mortgage program designed to make residential housing more affordable for prospective Detroit homeowners. I believe this initiative will have a profound impact on the Detroit housing market. This program offers the following benefits to citizens that sign-up:

  • No down payment
  • No closing costs
  • No fees
  • Below market fixed rates (3.5% – 30 year / 2.875% – 15 year)
  • 30 year – One percent of mortgage permanently reduces rate by .25% to virtually zero
  • 15 year – One percent of mortgage permanently reduces rate by .50% to virtually zero
  • Available on all property types: new, existing, single to four families, condo
  • RENOVATION FUNDING INCLUDED IN MORTGAGE
  • Credit Score never considered in mortgage process
  • Homebuyers individual payment history utilized
  • Underwriting done by NACA

Including renovation funding in the mortgage will play a huge role in improving the quality of housing in the Detroit area. Before the creation of this program, obtaining renovation funding to improve housing was a huge barrier for prospective homeowners. Mortgages can only be issued for the appraised value of a house, but due to the low values of residential sales ($10,000, for example), individuals are unable to finance renovations when buying a house as costs exceed $50,000 in some cases. Including renovation funding with the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative bypasses this barrier giving prospective homeowners the power to invest in the homes they desire to purchase while sequentially rebuilding the residential housing market through the renovation funding poured into the property.

Pairing the MCM dataset with the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative would be a great strategy to track home improvement and to also formulate blueprints toward rebuilding the residential housing market. Knowing the communities with deteriorating residential properties along with the specific details about the infrastructure of each property would give more insight to urban planners and community advocates looking to strengthen community stability. While other strategies and efforts must be ignited to help improve housing in Detroit, the Motor City Mapping dataset, and Detroit Neighborhood initiative serve as two beacons of hope for restoring Detroit’s residential housing market.

To view and interact with the MCM PowerBI visualization, click here.

Big Shoulders: Dan Shalmon, External Engagement Coordinator, Cline Center for Democracy

Dan Shalmon

You know what would be a really cool job?  One where you are at the intersection of the heart of democracy and extreme-scale data analysis.  Meet Dan Shalmon of the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). There, students and faculty are working together to use information to understand and better democracy.

The Cline Center uses data, combined with research tools and algorithms that they created, that derive deep insights and understanding of a variety of understudied topics around democracy.  They accumulate, curate, and leverage data to study democracy-related topics such as civil unrest, development of global social indicators, ethnic and religious group trends, sentiment analysis, and measuring rule of law constructs, just to name a few.

The research topics themselves require strong domain expertise.  But acquiring the data to do the evidence-based research is a monumental challenge.  Much of the data that they work with is unstructured – think of articles from the media, other research, and journals going back decades.  Not only is it text based, a good chunk of it is non-digital.  This is where the tools and methods that the Cline Center truly shines.  Join me in this episode of Big Shoulders where Dan Shalmon takes us through his work.

Watch Adam’s chat with Dan live on Advisor.tv.

Helping CHA Students “Take Flight”

cha-event

Photo via CHA, Twitter.

We spend a lot of time in Chicago focusing on helping CPS students get into college. But how do we help ensure they are successful and connecting to the business world while they are in college?

The terrific team at the Chicago Housing Authority has an answer: The “Take Flight: Staying the Course” Program. Managed by Crystal C. Coats,  Senior Manager, Corporate and External Partnerships, the “Take Flight” program focuses on CHA students who are in college (mostly freshmen-juniors) who grew up in the CHA community, and who are getting velvet glove treatment to make sure they are doing well, in college, have a resource network locally, and are introduced to prospective employers for jobs after they graduate.

Microsoft Chicago was honored to support this program. The students were coached on how to interact with the “Professionals” while over 20 organizations hosted tables for a round-robin speed dating discussion with the students. The Professionals ranged from theatre and arts to health care and technology. All provided a career path or internships for the students to learn about. Many thanks to the following organizations for providing time, talent and guidance to the students:

cha-to-doAt the Microsoft table, we had a steady flow of inquiries and questions. It was clear to me that CHA have selected a wonderful group of students, who were doing well in college (many were outside of Chicago so we also discussed their first “away” experience), interested in internships and planning for their career, or just looking for advice as they decided on their area of concentration or major. I was especially impressed with:

  • A young lady who was majoring in Computer Science. When I asked her how she became interested in CS, she said it was from a summer camp she attended at IIT/Illinois Tech while in high school. Hats off to IIT!
  • A great conversation with a young lady who had recently switched her major to Criminal Justice. We are both fans of the “Chicago PD” TV show and we discussed the previous night’s episode. An unspeakable crime was solved using Big Data to analyze DNA sample matches to narrow down and identify the suspect. She didn’t realize the connection to software in helping solve crimes. It was a fun, enlightening conversation on both sides.

Congratulations to the entire CHA team for developing and flawlessly executing such an important milestone for their students. We were honored to participate and look forward to future events.