130 Chicago Youth Learn Web-based Tech and Earn Microsoft Laptops


Smart Chicago Collaborative in partnership with Get In Chicago and Microsoft will celebrate 130 student’s completion of the 6-week Youth-led Tech Program. A certificate of completion ceremony will be conducted at Microsoft’s Midwest District office located at 200 East Randolph Drive, Suite 200, Chicago, IL, from 3pm to 6pm today.

“Youth-led Tech | Summer 2015” is a pilot technology mentoring program in five Chicago neighborhoods: Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and Roseland. This program is funded through Get IN Chicago, whose mission is to support programs that lead to a sustainable reduction in violence for individuals and communities most affected by violence and poverty. Youth who completed all of their learning hours will earn the Microsoft based laptop used during programming at the certificate ceremony.

The conceptual model for this program is “youth-led tech”, which means teaching technology in the context of the needs and priorities of young people. Youth learned how to use free and inexpensive Web tools to make websites and use social media to build skills, generate revenue, and get jobs in the growing technology industry. The youth also learned about other jobs in tech— strategy, project management, design, and so on. Additionally, the youth were provided introductory content about game design and app development.

All of the youth now know how to set up a website, have been exposed to sophisticated tech skills, and know how to find real customers and employers for their skills. “I am really proud of the commitment to learn demonstrated by the youth in this program”, says Smart Chicago Executive Director Daniel O’Neil. “It’s tough being a kid today, especially in some of these neighborhoods with significant safety concerns, but once these youth showed up for one class session, they were hooked and kept coming, kept learning, and most importantly stayed safe this summer.