On February 27, the equity group met with Demond Drummer to talk about Connect Chicago and potential implications for the C-STEMBE project, as well as the Hive Chicago Learning Network. Coming out of that meeting, we were impressed with the passion of Demond’s team to tackle the formidable challenge of making Chicago the most skilled, connected, and dynamic digital city in the world.
Connect Chicago worked with city officials to identify the need for expanding access to the digital economy for more Chicagoans. As their research from 2013 indicates, 30% of Chicagoans lack access to broadband at home and 16% do not access the internet at all. This data is further broken out by neighborhood:
To address these gaps in access, Connect Chicago strives to:
- Improve digital skills,
- Enhance online engagement for families, schools and small businesses,
- Strengthen digital leadership, and
- Support access to and increase demand for high-speed internet.
Although not specifically called out, youth access to technology and technology literacy is at the forefront of Connect Chicago’s next steps and new partnerships. Connect Chicago’s website will soon include toolkits of best practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programming currently happening around Chicago. These brief stories will enable other community-based organizations to replicate and iterate on successful programs that build youth technology skills.
The C-STEMBE equity working group is looking forward to presenting at an upcoming Connect Chicago meetup on April 17. We hope to start conversations on how addressing how digital badges as part of the digital economy might help further Connect Chicago goals and increase equitable access to learning opportunities. While digital badging has often been approached as an after-thought or add-on to existing programs, there is an opportunity with Connect Chicago to build a conversation around digital badges on the ground level and with input from our primary target – youth from under-resourced communities.