Kyla Williams Co-Presents Today at Philanthropy Ohio’s Annual Conference

Today, Leon Wilson, CIO of the Cleveland Foundation, and I will co-present at the Philanthropy Ohio’s annual conference with a theme this year of “Philanthropy Forward” and a concentrated discussion on Digital Civic Engagement & Community-Centered Design. Philanthropy Forward ’17 is set to inform practices, strategies and goals and connect peers in the field of philanthropy. The conference will also focus on the future of philanthropy with insight into the current state of the sector – fueled by recent research – addressing transitions, change and the leadership pipeline. With several networking and roundtable discussions, attendees will discover how to shift failures to successes, effectively fund advocacy and civic engagement and hear from  exceptional leaders across the state and country.

Leon and I also presented in April 2017 at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference “Leading Together” as part of a panel discussion with: Aaron Deacon, Managing Director, Kansas City Digital Drive; Elizabeth Reynoso, Assistant Director of Public Sector Innovation, Living Cities; and Lilly Weinberg, Program Director/Community Foundations, John S. & James L. Knight Foundation on “Supporting Civic Engagement through Technology and Community-Centered Design”. After finishing that presentation we decided more collaborative sharing between cities was necessary and lead to this opportunity at Philanthropy Ohio.

Community building in the digital era requires providing a space for the public sector and local communities to interact. Building solutions with peoplenot just for them – by using community-centered design can have profound social impact. This has been central to Smart Chicago’s work and has lead to the building of processes, products, services, and other lightweight tech solutions that have been helpful.

Our presentation today has the learning objectives:

  • To introduce different models developed in communities to address civic engagement digitally
  • To encourage the consideration of embedding support for digital civic engagement into existing grantmaking & advancement efforts

You can follow the happenings of the conference on Twitter @PhilanthropyOH and @SmartChgoKyla or by using the hashtag #PhilFWD17.


Good News!!! The Smart Chicago team is moving and now will be co-located with the City Digital Team at UI Labs. As such, our individual emails will be changing to:

Kyla Williams 

Sonja Marziano

Denise Linn     

Leslie Durr       

Our new mailing address is 1415 N. Cherry Avenue Chicago, IL 60642 and general phone number is 312.281.6900.

Please check our website at or follow us on twitter @smartchicago for more updates.

We appreciate your patience during this time of transition. launches in Chicago in partnership with A Safe Haven as part of CivicWorks Project

asafehavenAs part of the CivicWorks Project, we’ve helped launch a partnership between and A Safe Haven to provide the Promptly text-based followup services to A Safe Haven clients.

About Safe Haven

A Safe Haven is a social enterprise that provides comprehensive and vertically integrated approach uniquely designed to address root causes of poverty and homelessness for social and economic development to achieve sustainable self-sufficiency.

A Safe Haven serves individual adults, families with children, youth and has programs for veterans and residents who are reentering society after serving prison time for nonviolent crimes. A Safe Haven helps to provide individualized case management, shelter, food, treatment, education, job training, access to employment and affordable housing. A Safe Haven has served more than 65,000 clients and provides services daily to 1,200 people.

About Promptly is a product from civic tech company The consulting company was founded by three former Code for America fellows (Andy Hull, Reed Duecy-Gibbs, and Tamara Manik-Perlman). Promptly was originally a Code for America project created for the San Francisco Human Services Agency. During the fellowship year, the team discovered that one of the most common problems with social service delivery was that recipients of CalFresh (SNAP benefits) would be disenrolled because a letter wasn’t received or responded to in time. They created the Promptly app which sends a text message to the recipient when they need to contact the office.  This means that people have time to respond to the message before they get disenrolled.

Using Promptly to support A Safe Haven

One of the challenges that face A Safe Haven is following up with their clients after they’ve left the program. Clients often move and it’s not always easy to maintain contact people once they’ve left.  If A Safe Haven was aware that somebody needs additional services – such as career counseling – then they can offer it if It’s also more difficult to track progress over the long term.

Through the CivicWorks Project, we’re providing A Safe Haven a license for A Safe Haven will use the software to text follow-up messages to their clients to see how they’re doing. This will enable A Safe Haven to both track the progress of their former clients as well as reach back out to residents who may need further assistance. We’ll be blogging about their progress as time goes on.

Special thanks to the inimitable Christopher Whitaker for running the show on this.

For more information about A Safe Haven, check out their website here.