Archives: Civic Innovation in Chicago

mRelief: Mobilizing social service relief in Chicago

Last week marked the launch of mRelief,  a site that simplifies the social service qualifying process with an easy-to-use form that can be accessed online and through SMS. Residents can check to see if they’re eligible for a variety of programs including food stamps, medicaid, WIC, and more. Here’s the press release by mRelief creators on day of launch.

mRelief is made by an all-woman team hailing from different backgrounds and walks of life dedicated to making an impact with technology. Smart Chicago has supported mRelief under our CivicWorks Project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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mRelief is already deployed at the Martin Luther King Jr Community Services Center. The Community Service Centers are run by the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services.  DFSS Community Service Centers help individuals and families in need access a wide range of resources from shelter, food and clothing to domestic violence assistance, job training/placement and services for the formerly incarcerated. Staff members are using mRelief to help streamline the process of evaluating their eligibility. The mRelief team has also partnered with Purple Binder to refer residents to other useful local resources if they are ineligible for public assistance.

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The Launch of Chicago Localwiki

Today we’re stoked to announce the launch of Chicago’s LocalWiki, an online hyperlocal encyclopedia that anyone can edit. There are already several cities with LocalWiki including Oakland, Ann Arbor,  and Santa Cruz.

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In order to launch LocalWiki in Chicago, we partnered with the Chicago Public Library and local writer Mairead Case. As you explore the wiki, you’ll definitely notice a literary bent.

Right now, the Chicago LocalWiki is seeded with information about local writers, places, and books that have a Chicago connection. However, this is only the beginning for LocalWiki. Because LocalWikis can be edited by anyone, there’s a huge opportunity for people to write about the rich history of their own neighborhoods. Signing up is easy and you’ll be helping people learn more about our great city.  LocalWiki also has an API. We’ll also be hosting write-a-thons at Chicago Public Library locations to help fill out the LocalWiki.

This project is part of our CivicWorks Project – program funded by the Knight Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust to spur support civic innovation in Chicago. The program will produce 200 content pieces, 5 apps that solve government problems, and 5 apps that solve community problems.