ICYMI: Last month, Microsoft chose Chicago as one of the three pilot cities for the Activate Local Communities Across America Initiative (ALC). Chicago was recognized nationally for its leadership in promoting diversity in its tech economy as well as for its strides in increasing student access to science and technology

“The nation’s tech economy is thriving, and Chicago is leading the way—we are seeing unprecedented growth, from established international corporations to startups designed by our own residents,” said Mayor Emanuel. “In order to support this vital industry and open up doors for our children to succeed in this dynamic sector, city governments must be nimble. We established the city’s first Technology Diversity Council because collaboration is key to creating opportunity for all in the technology economy, today and in the future. With new collaboration with Microsoft, we look forward to what we can learn from other cities and to providing insights into our successes that can serve as a road map for years to come.”

ALC was developed from a challenge proposed by the White House Tech Inclusion Summit last summer. It strives to position American cities as inclusive centers of urban innovation and entrepreneurship working to connect talent from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students in diverse communities to today’s emerging digital world.

The program will ultimately last about six months, during which questions of infrastructure and effective public-private partnerships will be discussed. Once the programs are complete, their combined experiences will provide a framework for other cities that want to replicate the process.

One of the main motivating factors behind the ACL initiative is figuring out how to diversify the pipeline of young future tech innovators. The Director of Education and Scholarly Communication for Microsoft Research Connections, Rane Johnson-Stempson, says, “One of the biggest challenges in growing the pipeline of students in computing, especially women and under-represented minorities, is the lack of awareness of computing careers and the need for 1.4 million new technology jobs by 2018. Parents don’t know, students don’t know, and community members in at-risk areas have no idea about the opportunities available to them.”

To combat this challenge, Chicago’s Technology Diversity Council has been working to address the issue head on, working through ways that will diversify the pipeline, and get the word out ultimately promoting awareness and diversifying Chicago’s digital economy.


(Banner image via stemchicago.wordpress.com)

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