Our Blog

Our Blog

skastrul's picture

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.

Becoming an Agent of Change

Becoming an Agent of Change

skastrul's picture

The Hero's Journey - Portraits of Unity

Sometimes we feel like we’re trapped in the same narrative over and over again, as if things are happening to us and as if we are unable to break out of this “trapezoid.” Quite frankly being in this state is boring, and more importantly, it’s limiting. It doesn’t help us feel more empowered or help us lead. We all really just want to be empowered as managers and as leaders. We want to be empowered to recognize when we have choice and when we have the power manage our circumstances.

i.c.stars Receives PayPal Gives Grant for Its Technology, Business & Leadership Skills Training Program, Chicago

December 20, 2016 Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation (i.c.stars), an organization that expands opportunities for underserved young adults, announced today that it has been awarded a $5,000 grant f

skastrul's picture

Learning to Stand as a Team

We opened our Columbus office over the summer, and they recently came to Chicago for the Train the Trainers program. And, the basic skeleton of our Train the Trainers is to use Team Week, the 40 hours of curriculum that i.c.stars has built around team building, trust, cross-cultural communications, learning and management styles and diversity inclusion. And, there was something profoundly humbling and exciting about sitting at the table with 20 people that all work for i.c.stars.

skastrul's picture

What Managers Could Learn From Teachers

In my previous post I shared my perspective on diversity, inclusion and cultural competency. Cultural competency is borrowed from the educational space, where school teachers have to have a level of cultural competency because their classrooms are constantly changing. What was once a pretty homogenous classroom, in this day and age, has become very diverse, and the teacher has to be able to adapt to reach all of the different learners and not expect the learner to adapt to one way of thinking.

skastrul's picture

Diversity: There are Levels

Early on in the i.c.stars’ journey, we found out that diversity in the workplace was mostly charitable. That meant that diversity in the workplace was a nice to have. As a society our thinking has come a long way since then. In part I give thanks to large tech organizations like Facebook and Google for really saying that challenges with acquiring and retaining diverse talent is pain point.

As Volunteer Tech Tutors, i.c.stars’ Interns Put Their Leadership Skills into Practice in North Lawndale

Chicago—November 7, 2016 For more than five years, the young adult participants of i.c.stars have served as volunteer technology tutors at New Age Services Corporation, a substance use and abuse re

Enterprise Next

Enterprise Next is a lean startup training program for aspiring entrepreneurs who are graduates of i.c.stars.

$100,000 Grant from the Walmart Foundation Supports i.c.stars Technology Training and Geographic Expansion

Chicago—September 7, 2016 Leading workforce development nonprofit Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation, known as i.c.stars, received a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support the grow

skastrul's picture

The Evolution of the C-Suite, Part 4

Part 4 of a 4-Part Series with Sandee Kastrul & Anna Frazzetto The C-Suite and the Future

Sandee: My closing question is, what do you think the future workforce should be prepared for?

i.c.stars President & Co-Founder Sandee Kastrul Awarded Prestigious Chicago Community Trust Fellowship

Chicago—August 24, 2016 The Chicago Community Trust selected Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation (i.c.stars) President and Co-founder Sandee Kastrul as one of eight Trust Fellows of 2015.

skastrul's picture

The Evolution of the C-Suite, Part 3

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series with Sandee Kastrul & Anna Frazzetto “How the C-Suite Combats Disruption”

Sandee: How do job combinations within the C-Suite of a larger organization combat disruption from the new perceived threat of startups?

skastrul's picture

The Evolution of the C-Suite: Part 2

Part 2 of a 4-Part Series with Sandee Kastrul & Anna Frazzetto “The C-Suite - From the Peak to the Reality”

Sandee: So who will be left? Going from the peak level to a realistic level, what is the makeup of the C-Suite? Maybe the answer lies in our ability to do just that when the lines get fuzzy. If we’re holding to our silos and our expertise, we may become extinct. But if we are building the capacity to work with people who think and see differently than we do, then we’re securing our seat.

skastrul's picture

The Evolution of the C-Suite: Part 1

Part 1 of a 4-Part Series with Sandee Kastrul & Anna Frazzetto “Introducing the Chief Digital Officer”

Sandee: First, let me start by thanking you, Anna. Thank you for being such an amazing speaker and sharing your insights with the audience at CXO Disrupt 2016, and with our larger audience through this conversation. I know our readers can’t wait to get deeper insights from you. So to kick off the conversation, would you share what you see as the most important thing to know - the biggest insight about how things are changing right in front of us in the C-Suite?

TheMetropreneur.com Features i.c.stars Expansion to Columbus

July 27, 2016

TheMetropreneur.com writes about the launch of i.c.stars Columbus—its advocates, supporters and partners, and its home: Rev1Ventures.

i.c.stars Opens First Expansion City in Columbus at Rev1Ventures

July 26, 2016

Rev1Ventures captures the excitement surrounding the opening of i.c.stars Columbus, the first i.c.stars expansion city.

i.c.stars |* Columbus Launches First Expansion City

July 26, 2016

Rev1Ventures captures the excitement surrounding the opening of i.c.stars Colubmus, the first i.c.stars expansion city.

i.c.stars |* Columbus Launches First Expansion City

July 26, 2016

Rev1Ventures captures the excitement surrounding the opening of i.c.stars Colubmus, the first i.c.stars expansion city.

i.c.stars |* Columbus Launches First Expansion City

July 26, 2016

Rev1Ventures captures the excitement surrounding the opening of i.c.stars Colubmus, the first i.c.stars expansion city.

Competing on Innovation report from U.S. Chamber of Commerce Fdn Spotlights i.c.stars

July 14, 2016

As part of its Youth Employment series, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation features i.c.stars as a model program for building innovative talent.

skastrul's picture

Leaders: What Comes First, Fear, Finance, or Faith?

I just attend a lunch hosted by Good City An amazing organization committed to strengthening our communities by developing strong non-profits. I had the pleasure of listening to Bob Doll, senior portfolio manager and chief equity strategist of Nuveen. Good City assembled some local leaders together to have lunch and it was truly food for thought. Doll talked about the United Kingdom’s recent exit from the EU and the impact it may have on the global financial markets.

Alumni and Their Mentors: Kevin and Adam

medium_tea with adam and kevin_crop.jpg

skastrul's picture

Saying Goodbye

I want to congratulate our most recent cycle, Cycle 35. They commenced last week. It was a beautiful commencement. The ceremony was held at the Metropolitan Club in the Willis Tower, or the Sears Towers as Chicagoans will always call it, and it was beautiful. Even though it was a foggy evening, as we were high in the sky and seeing not just the horizon but a 360-degree view of our fantabulous metropolis — Chicagoland.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Features i.c.stars in Employment Guide for Business

June 2, 2016

skastrul's picture

To: The Next President of the U.S.A, Love: Sandee

We are ending the final term of an historical presidency in the United States of America. As we stand in yet another historical moment where our candidates are outside of politics as usual I was inspired to address a letter to the #nextpresident.

i.c.stars Welcomes Gillian Downey as Chief Operating Officer

Silicon Valley and Bank of America executive lends considerable experience and talent to i.c.stars leadership team

skastrul's picture

Who Sets Your Table?

At i.c.stars we to find, train and put talented folks to work. We try to keep the male to female ratio pretty even. Some dynamics about the female interns have been in play since we started i.c.stars. As women we are socialized to set the table for everyone else to come and eat; we eat last without a thought; it’s how we are raised. It would be weird for us to get to the table first and ‘help ourselves’ or to just show up at dinner and ask who is cooking? We would never demand the “largest piece of chicken”. It would be very strange, we just would never do that.

skastrul's picture

Sandee's Take: Product Innovation Musings

I was fortunate to moderate a lively panel discussion on product innovation on April 26 at 1871, sponsored by one of our wonderful partners, Paylocity. My “aha” moment from the evening’s talk was to realize that we’re doing here at i.c. stars - creating community leaders by teaching people the ins and outs of technology and project management - is a path to innovation. We may not always realize the innovation opportunity staring us down.

My first question to the panel - “what is innovation?” - prompted thoughts. Here are a few that inspired me most and caused me to put an innovation lens on what we do at i.c. stars because we do these things every day:

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
Industry retention rate:
College attendance rate:
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
Average 12-month earnings before program:
Average 12-month earnings after program: