As a consultant with the Smart Chicago Collaborative I was on board to help manage phase three of the highly-used Chicago Early Learning portal. Specifically I helped turn the existing system from a sortable web-based listing of locations to a robust jumping-off point for parents and caregivers seeking to enroll children.” This is a project that let me get hands on with the civic innovation work I’ve been so excited to see unfold in Chicago. The best part is that I got to work with and learn from Dan O’Neil and the amazing team at the Smart Chicago Collaborative.
Serving as Dr. Dana Suskind’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and National Partnerships at Thirty Million Words Initiative at the University of Chicago I led the development of the team’s first strategic plan and served on point for national partnerships. I helped organize “Bridging the Thirty-Million-Word Gap,” the first national cross-sector convening of researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and funders aimed at developing a set of priorities and recommendations for a national-initiative aimed at closing the early language gap.
It is hard to have more fun than working with University of Chicago cognitive scientists Daniel Casasanto and Tyler Alterman to develop a start-up plan and launch strategy for The Think Tank. The Think Tank is leveraging the potential of neuroscience research and labs to accelerate diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). In addition to creating an urgently needed two-year mentored apprenticeship Fellowship program for Chicago Public High School students the project is going to put a glowing pink brain on top of their truck for their broad-based public and school programs.
In Fall 2013 I collaborated with John Tolva to create a new course for Starter School called “Using your Starter School Powers for Good.” (You can see the syllabus and some of program we put together on the class website, Finditchicago.wordpress.com. Starter School is a new kind of alternative graduate school that teaches people how to build software and start companies.
Other ongoing projects and conversations…
Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation – I worked with Voqal to survey and analyze Chicago’s mobile learning landscape and provide recommendations for philanthropic investment. You can read or download a public version of “The State of the Chicago Mobile Learning Landscape.”
City of Chicago Technology Industry Diversity Council – Neal Sales-Griffin (cofounder of Starter League) and I co-chaired the Mayor’s Technology Diversity Council. Over a period of 9 months we set out to develop a set of recommendations for city-wide investment that would help increase the percentage of minority owned employees for technology firms, increase the percentage of minority owned and operated technology firms and help create a pipeline through which Chicago Public School and City Colleges of Chicago students can transition into the technology economy. The committee’s work was incorporated into the City of Chicago Technology Plan.
Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative – I chaired a working group that undertook the first comprehensive survey of the state of STEM and out of school time programming in Chicago. The project website, final report, raw data and conference documents can be found here.
Project Exploration – I founded Project Exploration in 1999 and continue to serve its mission as an emeritus board member and passionate ambassador. Project Exploration will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019!