Youth-Led Tech


Youth-led Tech Summer 2016 is a technology mentoring program in three Chicago neighborhoods: Austin, North Lawndale, and Roseland. We are also delivering a program in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.


The conceptual model for this program is “youth-led tech”, which means teaching technology in the context of the needs & priorities of young people. Youth learn how to use free and inexpensive Web tools to make websites and use social media to build skills, generate revenue, and get jobs in the growing technology industry.

They also learn about all sorts of other jobs in tech— strategy, project management, design, and so on. At the end of the six-week program, all of the youth know how to set up a website, are exposed to sophisticated tech skills, and know how to find real customers & employers for their skills.

This intensive, six-week summer program (from 10 am - 4 pm; 6/27/16 - 8/5/16) meets youth where they’re at, in their neighborhoods, at their skill level, and takes them through a course of learning on simple & powerful Web-based tools. The program material— the websites and tools they made— revolve around their expressed needs and interests.

Recruitment is now open for Youth Applicants!

Are you between the ages of 13-18?
A resident of the City of Chicago?
Reside in either the Austin, North Lawndale, or Roseland communities?
Interested in Tech?
Want to be in a safe, nurturing, learning environment?
Need help with building up social and workforce development skills?

If yes, then Apply Here


This program is fully funded by a grant from Get IN Chicago, whose mission is to identify, fund and rigorously evaluate evidence-based programs that lead to a sustainable reduction in violence for individuals and communities most affected by violence and poverty. Here's their blog post announcing their support for the program in 2016, and here's a snip:

Get IN Chicago logoLast week, the Get IN Chicago Board of Directors approved a renewal and expansion of Smart Chicago’s Youth-Led Tech for Summer 2016. This summer, the program will focus on Austin, North Lawndale, and Roseland – and more importantly, on our Get IN Chicago demographic: the most at-risk youth, such as those who are justice-involved or chronically truant. Along those lines, Smart Chicago will also offer the program at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

Smart Chicago plans to reach 300 youth with Youth-Led Tech this summer. We are incredibly excited to support their work again! Our partnership is a perfect example of how Get IN Chicago is using innovation and cross-sector collaboration to create safer communities, brighter futures, and better opportunities for youth in our city.


See also our project page for #CivicSummer, a precursor to Youth-Led Tech that we helped run with other key partners. Info on Youth-Led Tech 2015 is here.

Please contact us with any questions.

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