Our Blog

Our Blog

AOL’s Co-Founder Steve Case Mentions i.c.stars in Columbus Dispatch Op-Ed

October 12, 2017

AOL’s Co-Founder Steve Case Mentions i.c.stars Columbus in Columbus Dispatch Op-Ed: Talented entrepreneurs can find a home here.

Windy City Times Features i.c.stars

November 28, 2017

The Windy City Times features i.c.stars, its president Sandee Kastrul, staff and interns.

How Chicago Tech Companies are Advancing Non-Traditional Talent

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No Equity, No Equality, No Peace

Equity is not a new word or even a new way to describe something. I think we’ve been using the term equity for quite some time. What’s fascinating to me is we often talk about walking between worlds and how our ability to stand in different communities and to add value only gives us more power. The more worlds we can walk between, the more communities we can connect.

Alumni Interviews: Yemisi on Economic Development, Leadership & i.c.stars

Yemisi, you are Director of Finance and Economic Development at the Westside Health Authority. Tell me about your current role.

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i.c.stars featured on ABC 7's Ñ Beat - 9/24/17

September 24, 2017

i.c.stars was featured in the September 24, 2017 episode of ABC 7’s Ñ Beat, highlighting leaders in the latinx community around Chicago.

Essendant’s Director, Program Management, Shares Career Advice with i.c.stars Graduate

i.c.stars graduate Tina Rodriguez speaks to Essendant’s Director, Program Management Office, Kathleen Wittleder, about her career.

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Have you hugged your white supremacist today?

Sandee: So I’m sitting here with Thom. He’s a beloved member of our i.c.stars team. He works on the development side bringing folks into the network and ensuring that our greater community feels engaged and seen. And what most folks don’t know about Thom is that he’s also a social justice dude and he has his degree in social work. So, he brings with him the perspective of what’s the bigger picture about how we’re looking at social justice in terms of the work that we do, how we embrace the future as one larger community and how we honor all our members.

i.c.stars Receives Motorola Solutions Foundation Grant for its Technology & Leadership Skills Training

Chicago—August 22, 2017 i.c.stars, technology workforce development nonprofit, today announced it has received a grant for $50,000 from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motor

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The Elements of Transformation

There is a concept in workforce development that you cannot move people beyond one jump. There are typically 3 stages and you can only jump one stage at a time.

They are struggling, surviving, or thriving.

It is said, You can’t take someone from struggling to thriving. For example, If someone is struggling, you can only get them to a place of survival. If someone is surviving, you can get them to a place where they are thriving. I think this philosophy is wrong. What those categories do is limit us and say you can only do what you can see. I believe our personal power not only comes from our ability to see our future, but also to create it. Perhaps the 3 categories should be imagine, envision, architect or design, build, run, or discover, design, develop, or listen, learn, belive. Each one is a jump, a leap, a dream into action. Each word is a verb and moves us closer to our personal power. You may wonder why I have such trouble finding peace with surviving being at the center?

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Snoopy Love

When I was a kid, my father could never remember that I love Hello Kitty and he thought that Hello Kitty was interchangeable with Snoopy. To me, Hello Kitty and Snoopy are opposites and it enraged me. Hello Kitty is not Snoopy. Hello Kitty is a cat with no mouth. Snoopy is a dog that doesn’t talk.

My childhood self was like, Why couldn’t he see me? Why couldn’t he see that these were two completely different things? He would come home all excited and say, “Look what I’ve got for you,” and sure enough it was a Snoopy, an effing Snoopy! I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but come on SNOOPY?!?!!

Executives from Grainger, TTX, and EC-United Join i.c.stars Board of Directors

Chicago—July 12, 2017 Technology workforce development nonprofit i.c.stars announced the addition of three directors to its board: Wheeler Coleman, chief executive officer and executive partner of EC

Banking CIO Says Community Service Key to Leadership

June 30, 2017 The PrivateBank’s chief information officer discusses his engagement with i.c.stars and its value for leaders, in an interview with The Enterprisers Project.
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Leaders and Celebrities - There is a Difference

I attend Congress Woman Jan Schakowsky’s Power Luncheon every year as a guest of a dear friend and former board member Lynne Baker. The number of engaged leaders from across the state at the luncheon is notable. The first time I attended was years ago when Barack Obama was running for State Senator. I believe that pink is the color of friendship, I also believe that it is difficult not to be nice when wearing it. So I in the spirit of friendship am wearing my bright pink jacket.

Unfortunately I was running late for the event and they had already started the welcome. The luncheon is being held in this great big hall in the hotel, with great big doors. Just as I run in, the doors close, people turn to look and there I am, standing there in my pink jacket.

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Leaders - Claim Your People Now!

What community do you claim?
Does it claim you?
When will we be able to claim each other?

Our current cycle recently lost a member, he was let go from the cohort. Resiliency is a key characteristic our interns and alumni share. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. i.c.stars is tough. The American Psychological Association offers 10 ways to build resilience and the number one suggestion is to “Make Connections.”

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Bruce Jones, WW VP at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Talks CxO Disrupt, Big Data and i.c.stars

i.c.stars is hosting its second annual CxO Disrupt: The Evolution of the C-Suite Wednesday evening, June 14th at Chicago’s new innovation lab mHub. This year’s event will focus on the convergence of data and marketing, and the unique challenges and opportunities CIOs and CMOs face in the shifting marketplace. We are excited about our speaker line-up this year. Bruce Jones, VP at HPE Vertica and keynote event speaker, sat for an interview to share a glimpse of his presentation on how technology is making big data more flexible.

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i.c.stars Selected for Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant

Three-Year Program Will Advance Efforts to Support Diverse Entrepreneurs

Blue Sky Innovation writes that i.c.stars among Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship cohort

June 2, 2017

i.c.stars was selected by Blackstone Charitable Foundation to receive grant to support programming for minority entrepreneurs across Chicago.

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Chicago Ideas profiles i.c.stars recruiter and alumnus: Rico Bryant, like many formerly incarcerated people, isn't defined by

Rico Bryant is the Recruitment Manager of i.c.stars, a technology-based workforce development program assisting low-income adults.

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To Capitalize is to Expand the Future

We just hosted our 16th annual Capitalize on Illinois event. Historically Capitalize has been focused on technology executives, what’s on their minds and how they see the future of their enterprises. We would discuss what they foresee coming down the pike, what they’re excited about, and what the challenges may be. This year, the theme for all of our events is Expand the Future and I think that’s a really powerful statement. Especially in the context of this event. When we say, “Capitalize on Illinois, Expand the Future,” it really is a call to action, and this year Capitalize was about immigration and how it impacts the way we conduct business.

So if you connect those three dots, capitalize on local - Illinois, expand the future opportunities, and immigration, we’ve got three pieces of a much larger puzzle that really pushes us into a global perspective.

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Speaking about Women...

March was an incredible and remarkable women’s history month. Of all the things I could say about this past month, I would say there were two things that stood out the most.

The first thing that struck me is that I had a lot of speaking engagements that were focused on women. In fact, there were many events celebrating women, which is great; I hope that momentum continues throughout the year and not just a month.

i.c.stars Partners with Chicago Ideas for Roundtable on Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

February 22, 2017

i.c.stars partnered with Chicago Ideas on a roundtable discsussion on hiring formerly incarcerated individuals.

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Women's History: 2017 The Year We Did Everything That They Said We Couldn't Do.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we have a special guest today with us, Toriana Williams, of Cycle 35. To start Tori, would you mind sharing a little about your cycle and why it was so great?

Sure Sandee. Speaking from my experience, what made Cycle 35 so great was really about the people. We had a diverse group of people coming from different walks of life. No matter their background you are all sharing the same space without really knowing what is about to transpire, but we were there. We were willing to put in work and learn something completely different that would become a force in both our professional and personal lives.

i.c.stars |* Alumni Launch Entrepreneurial Social and Technology Ventures

i.c.stars Alumni Launch Entrepreneurial Social and Technology Ventures
Entrepreneurs and tech founders are latest in a long line of i.c.stars graduates driving innovation in Chicago

The Chicago Community Trust Features i.c.stars and alumna

March 14, 2017

The Chicago Community Trust highlights i.c.stars and an alumna in: A Jobs Program Creating Tech Stars and Community Leaders.

eshots' Founder Hosts "High Tea" with Chicago Tech Interns from i.c. stars

March 8, 2017

eshots’ CEO Craig Steensma gives presentation and Q&A with i.c. stars interns.

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Growth, Transformation and Realization

I recently visited our first expansion city, for the first day of Cycle 1 in Columbus Ohio. Cristhian Romero (Cycle 15), joined me and was an amazing asset to the whole experience. Since that trip I’ve been reflecting on what it means to grow up. When Leslie and I started i.c.stars I was 29 years old and she was a year or two younger than that. Fast forward two decades and I’ve grown up. I think that in your twenties you are always challenging yourself. it’s a constant process of starting, learning and doing new things. It’s always hard and it should be hard, because that means that you are growing.

i.c.stars president and alumni among 10 Chicago Black folks in tech to be proud of

February 28, 2017

i.c.stars president Sandee Kastrul and alumni Dominic Liddell and Tiffany Mikell among ‘10 Chicago Black folks in tech to be proud of’, according to Medium.com

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Kumbaya My People

In a recent post I shared that i.c.stars was working on an effort to improve cultural competency within organizations. We recently held what we are calling “Cultural Competency 101,” with an organization’s leadership team.

Most folks within larger organizations have attended “diversity and sensitivity” trainings, And most people have some feelings about what the training is going to be like and it’s not usually one of excitement. As you can imagine the group may not have been thrilled to allocate more time to the subject. We knew this could be a challenge and we had come prepared.

A Measurable Impact

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