This grant, which is being administered by Smart Chicago, is just a part of the enormous amount of work that LISC/ Chicago has done in the five Smart Communities neighborhoods. Here’s how LISC/ Chicago explains how the Smart Communities program works:
Built on the existing NCP platform of interconnected agencies, Smart Communities is run on the ground by NCP lead agencies The Resurrection Project (in Pilsen), Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp. (in Humboldt Park), and, through a cooperative arrangement, by Teamwork Englewood, Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp., and the Greater Southwest Development Corp. and Southwest Organizing Project (in Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chicago Lawn, respectively). See the Smart Communities plans for Humboldt Park, Pilsen and the Southwest Smart Communities Partners.
The three “Smart Community Plans” tie into an overarching master plan centered on five strategies: build awareness, expand digital education and training, improve access to technology, generate local content about neighborhood news and resources, and help grow existing businesses and attract new ones.
To reach those goals, Smart Communities provides coordinated programming and services:
- Technical Trainings to teach “everyday digital” skills to people of all ages.
- FamilyNet Centers that provide computer access and hands-on training.
- Business Resource Networks to increase tech use by local firms.
- Community Portals that allow local residents to post and find community information.
- Digital Youth Network that engages youth in multimedia and the arts.
- Digital Youth Summer Jobs to place youth in tech-related jobs and prepare them for a career in technology.
The program already has funded “early action projects” including the installation of approximately 30 HP “Touch Smart” Kiosks to provide public Internet access in all five neighborhoods, a summer youth project in Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chicago Lawn to contribute to a pending community “portal” site, and new portals in Pilsen, Humboldt Park, Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chicago Lawn.
Other key projects to come include a marketing campaign to boost adoption, creation of FamilyNet Centers for training and access, expansion of broadband at public computing sites, community portals for the remaining communities, expansion of youth programs in schools and at libraries, and the establishment of Business Resource Centers that build capacity.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur is providing $650,000 in matching funds for this project, as well as significant support for Digital Excellence staffing and other projects in the five Smart Communities.
Smart Chicago’s role in Smart Communities is to administer the BTOP SBA funds on behalf of the City of Chicago, including monitoring performance and compliance. We are also actively seeking additional funding to continue the work, and developing ways to increase digital excellence in every neighborhood of the city.