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.

Announcing the September 2016 Connect Chicago Meetup: Connectivity, Training & Resources in Public Housing

chalogoAt the next Connect Chicago Meetup, we’ll be learning about the new connectivity, training, and device programs available at Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) sites. This will be our first off-site Connect Chicago Meetup where, in addition to learning from peers and partners in the digital equity field, we will also see Chicago’s learning spaces in person! New programs and resources for public housing residents will be showcased and Meetup attendees will get to learn more about CHA computer labs and the work of CHA digital literacy trainers.

Event: Connectivity, Training & Resources in Public Housing

Where: Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center — 4859 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL

When: Friday, September 30th from 11am to 1pm (lunch will be served)

Come meet and network with computer trainers, nonprofit professionals,  technologists, and fellow residents who care about digital access & skills in Chicago. Please RSVP here so we can get an accurate count for lunch. Thank you!

Here’s more information about the new developments and programs supporting public housing residents:

The Meetup will feature speakers from Comcast, the Chicago Housing Authority, and the Digital Youth Network.

The Connect Chicago Meetup is a monthly gathering of computer trainers, nonprofit professionals, and fellow residents who care about the digital lives of Chicagoans. Email Denise Linn, Program Analyst at Smart Chicago, with any questions, concerns or ideas:



Community Health Workers Teach Asthma Patients to Breathe Easier

Kimberly Artis, community health educator

Kimberly Artis, community health educator

When an asthma patient showed her inhaler, Kimberly Artis was encouraged, at first.

“She shook the medicine up and I’m thinking in my head, OK that’s good,” says Artis, a community health educator with Sinai Health System in Chicago. “The next thing she did was take a cleansing breath, and I’m like, that’s even better because most people don’t do this.”

Then the patient sprayed the inhaler over her shoulder and took a breath of the room air, and Artis knew why this patient wasn’t getting better. “If the doctor asked her if she was taking her medication, she would have said yes, because she thought she was doing it correctly,” Artis says.

Artis was hired to help patients in their own homes, and to keep them out of emergency rooms. Outreach workers like Artis have helped Sinai cut return visits. Sinai, which includes Mount Sinai, Holy Cross and Sinai Children’s hospitals, estimates the visits save $3,200 per patient, more than $5 for every dollar spent. Now the technique is spreading to treat other environmental health conditions in underserved neighborhoods.

Asthma affects 9.1 percent of Chicago adults, compared with 8 percent nationwide. It’s one of the top 10 reasons Chicagoans land in the hospital, with 7,325 hospital cases in 2012, according to a Chicago Department of Public Health analysis of state records.

“We’ve been working to address asthma disparities in the communities we serve on the West Side of Chicago since 2001,” says Helen Margellos-Anast, Sinai’s senior epidemiologist and asthma program director. “We focus on helping people understand what asthma is, recognizing it early in its trajectory – understanding these are the early symptoms, and I have to treat them now.”

Continue reading

Grand Opening of the Dearborn Technology Center

March 7, 2012 marked the grand opening of the Dearborn Technology Center at 2910 S. Dearborn. This program is administered in part by Smart Chicago under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Public Computer Centers grant that we administer under a subaward from the City of Chicago.

Grand Opening of Dearborn Homes Technology Center

This launch was made possible by the great work of the Chicago Housing Authority and their partner, TEC Services. Here’s a snip from the press release from the CHA:

CHA CEO Charles Woodyard was on hand to commemorate the opening of the lab, equipped with 28 computers. John Tolva, the City of Chicago’s Chief Technology Officer, was also on hand to celebrate the occasion, along with officials from City of Chicago and The Chicago Community Trust.

“This Technology Center will help link Dearborn Homes and its residents to the broader Chicago area, with its resources and employment opportunities,” Woodyard said. “Also, this center will be staffed by current or former CHA residents, who have spent months in training to be training coordinators and technical support staff.”

The Dearborn Homes Technology Center is the first of seven technology centers that will open in separate CHA developments around the city over the next two years. The Altgeld Gardens Technology Center opened in 2010 and updated in 2011.

Here’s a video showcasing the lab and explaining the features of the lab, the unique build-out, and the employment program:

See more images from the opening here.

Grand Opening of Dearborn Homes Technology Center

Grand Opening of Dearborn Homes Technology Center

Grand Opening of Dearborn Homes Technology Center

Here’s a flyer about the programs available at Dearborn Homes: