#Civic Summer is an experimental summer jobs program for teens focused on civics, media, and technology. Our inaugural program ran from July through August of 2013 and included more than 140 Chicago teens trained to use the latest digital tools to organize themselves, amplify their voice, and take positive civic action.
This program, funded by Smart Chicago based on a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, was largely run by two Chicago organizations focused on serving youth:
- Mikva Challenge, which develops the next generation of civic leaders, activists, and policy-makers
- Free Spirit Media, which provides education, access, and opportunity in media production
The Chicago Community Trust provides significant support for the program as well.
Team & Locations
Jacqui Cheng was the lead instructor for Smart Chicago Collaborative. She and I teamed up to deliver four Friday #civicsummer sessions and custom sessions with each group.
Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy houses many #civicsummer sessions as well as the Mikva Juvenile Justice Council and the Free Spirit Media’s DocuMakers program.
YOUMedia was the location for Mikva Digital Fellows, Mikva CPS Education Council, and Teen Health Council.
1871 was the location for one Friday #civicsummer session.
Devry was the location for the Mayoral Youth Commission.
The youth worked in separate groups, each with their own themes, leadership, and advisors.
The Juvenile Justice Advisory Council theme was “improving the criminal justice system” and reducing youth incarceration rates. Their decision makers were Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Justice Advisory Council led by Juliana Stratton. Smart Chicago worked with this Council on CAPStagram, a proposed app that would allow residents to submit “Community Concerns” via the CLEARPath API.
The Teen Health Council theme was “how to improve the health of wellness for Chicago youth” and their decision makers were Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, and Dr. Stephanie Whyte, Chicago Public Schools Chief Health Officer. Smart Chicago worked with this Council on Chicago Health Atlas, where you can view citywide information about health trends and take action near you to improve your own health.
The Mayoral Youth Commission theme was “making youth issues a top priority for the City of Chicago” and their decision makers were Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other City departments. Smart Chicago worked with this Council on the open data policies of the City as well as the data published to data.cityofchicago.org.
The Education Council theme was “how to improve school culture through increased use of youth voice” and their decision makers were Barbara Byrd Bennett, Chicago Public Schools CEO, and Chicago Public Schools Director of Youth Development and Positive Behavior Support. Smart Chicago wored with this Council on Go2School, a site that allows you to explore travel options to your Chicago Public School. Here’s the curriculum we used with this group:
The Mikva Government Fellows theme was “how government works and how it can work for youth” and their decision makers were City Aldermen. Smart Chicago worked with this Council on Chicago Works for You, which uses the City’s Open311 system to display information about city services. Here’s the curriculum we used for this group:
The Free Spirit Media DocuMakers worked on media throughout the summer. Smart Chicago worked with this group on EveryBlock and the significance of citizen journalism, tutorials on using open-source data tools, and a review of Creative Commons and other useful tools you in youth reporting. Here’s the curriculum for this group:
Here’s a two-pager on the program: