Chicago Launches Website to Help Parents Find Preschool Programs (Education Week)

Here’s an article about Chicago Early Learning in Education Week.

Snip:

The website, complete with an interactive map, helps parents find neighborhood options by entering their addresses and provides information so they can compare programs. A texting feature is available so parents can get information on their phones without having to access the Internet. The site also notes which programs are “accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and will eventually include information about each program’s statewide rating once the Illinois Quality Rating Improvement System is launched,” the release say

The Launch of Chicago Early Learning

Today marked the launch of Chicago Early Learning, a new way to find and compare early learning programs in Chicago.

Here’s some snips from the press release from the Mayor’s Office:

As part of the his administration’s focus on increasing access to quality early learning programs for children across the city and emphasis on helping parents get and stay involved in their children’s education, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today launched a new online Early Leaning Portal, www.chicagoearlylearning.org. The portal is an easy-to-use, interactive website that puts information about hundreds of quality early learning programs across the city all in one place.

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“We were happy to collaborate with the City on this interactive map, which will allow parents and families to find information about these programs easily and quickly. We’re interested in hearing from parents and caregivers on what would make the site more useful to them,” said Dan O’Neil, Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. “We’re also releasing the code for the site as open source, so that it can be used to make similar map-based sites showing resources across the city.”

“Our focus is on making sure children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. M.K. and I share Mayor Emanuel’s strong commitment to providing high-quality early learning for infants, toddlers and their families,” said J.B. Pritzker, president of the J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation. “Helping Chicago parents and caregivers identify the best early childhood educational opportunities in their neighborhoods is critically important. This online interactive, one-stop shop will help parents and caregivers access and better manage the challenging process of selecting a high-quality early learning program for their infants and toddlers.”

Here’s the code that drives the site.

Chicago Early Learning

Here’s a spot on CBS about the site featuring Kevin Hauswirth of the Mayor’s Office:

Review of Chicago Early Learning Portal on CBS with Kevin Hauswirth from Daniel X. O’Neil on Vimeo.

We worked with a really great team to get this first phase of the Web site launched:

  • At Smart Chicago, we had consultant Derek Eder of DataMade. Derek served as local technical technical project manager and was instrumental in getting the data for the site in good order
  • Azavea, a leading geospatial firm out of Philadelphia, did the heavy lifting around technology
  • The Urban Education Lab of the University of Chicago shepherded the project from the education perspective and worked with other stakeholders like Illinois Action for Children to make sure that the data was sound and the interface was useful key constiuents

We look forward to working toward a successful phase two, which will incorporate feedback from user testing we’ll be conducting in the months to come. Questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome at info@chicagoearlylearning.org

Mayor’s Office Press Release on the Launch of Chicago Early Learning

Mayor Emanuel Unveils Online Early Learning Portal to Help Parents and Families Find Quality Programs for Children in Their Neighborhoods: Mayor’s Office press release on the initial launch. Snip:

“We were happy to collaborate with the City on this interactive map, which will allow parents and families to find information about these programs easily and quickly. We’re interested in hearing from parents and caregivers on what would make the site more useful to them,” said Dan O’Neil, Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. “We’re also releasing the code for the site as open source, so that it can be used to make similar map-based sites showing resources across the city.”

Help Improve Adopt-A-Sidewalk

In February of 2011, a massive blizzard hit the City of Chicago effectively shutting the city down for a day and a half. Lake Shore Drive, Metra lines, and business closed down as the city was buried under 20 inches of snow.

In the storm’s aftermath, Chicago cleaned itself up with neighbors helping neighbors shovel out the snow. In that same spirit of being good neighbors, Chicago is joining Race for Reuse to push adoption of the Adopt-A-Sidewalk app.

Adopt-A-Sidewalk is Chicago’s implementation of the Adopt-A-Hydrant application. Users adopt a sidewalk that they agree to shovel after a snow event. Through the site, you can also share resources like snow blowers and salt as well as let people know that your sidewalk has been cleared. More importantly, those that need help clearing their sidewalk can do so through the app. This will let volunteers, who sign up through the city’s Snow Corps app, know which sidewalks also need to be cleared.

Through a partnership between the City of Chicago and Code for America and the Smart Chicago Collaborative, the Adopt-A-Sidewalk app is getting overhauled for the new winter season. The app has been open sourced on GitHub and civic hackers are invited to help improve the app. The app will be hosted on the Smart Chicago Collaborative AWS account in order to make it easier to implement improvements to the Adopt-A-Sidewalk code.

Christopher Whittaker (cwhitaker@codeforamerica.org), the Code for America Brigade leader here in Chicago, is leading this effort. Civic hackers interested in working on Adopt-A-Sidewalk are invited to come to the OpenGov Hacknights Tuesdays at 6:00pm inside 1871. There we’ll discuss needed improvements and enhancements to the app.

Adopt a Sidewalk

The Launch of Connect Chicago

Today we’re announcing the launch of Connect Chicago,  a loose network of more than 250 places in the city where internet and computer access, digital skills training, and online learning resources are available—for free.

By way of background, Connect Chicago is a part of the Public Computer Centers grant (award No. 17-42-B10553) received by the City of Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has also awarded a grant to support this project. Smart Chicago administers many portions of this grant, including the Connect Chicago portion. We also administer funds for the City’s Sustainable Broadband Adoption grant.

All of our work at Smart Chicago under the BTOP grants is managed by Francesca Rodriquez, the Director of Technology Adoption and Digital Skills at DoIT. Here’s a graphic created by Francesca illustrating the great work across the City’s entire BTOP PCC grant:

Most of the locations in the Connect Chicago system have been serving the community for many, many years. Wi-fi and public computers have been available in the Chicago Public Library for more than a decade. Community technology centers— supported in part with programs like the State of Illinois’ Eliminate the Digital Divide Program (going back to 2001)— have been essential parts of neighborhoods for many years. Home-grown classes on social media and photo sharing have been taught in senior centers since the days of Friendster. This robust, caring, and rich environment is the basis for our work.

The campaign around this launch has a number of components:

  • A website at www.weconnectchicago.org, with a listing of all locations and a listing of training opportunities: http://weconnectchicago.org/learn/
  • A bus, rail, and kiosk advertising campaign announcing the network and directing people to the Web site and 311. This includes ads on all city-owned newsracks and many bus shelters. See the ad campaign here.
  • A new information pack for the city’s 311 service, which continues to be the front line support for residents looking to connect with technology resources. Connect Chicago is replacing the City’s Tech Locator tool, which has served as the main source of information for the 311 call center for the last few years
  • An admin tool based on Google Fusion Tables
  • A series of meetups for you and / or your staff to show you the website and other Connect Chicago resources and train you on how to maintain your own location detail pages
  • Press release, blog posts, and other media to carry the Connect Chicago message