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

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 recovery center in North Lawndale. This partnership is part of i.c.stars’ business, leadership and technology training program, which teaches not only HTML, CSS and JavaScript, it empowers participants to create change in their communities.

Since many New Age clients do not have access to a computer at home, the one-on-one tutoring with i.c.stars has made a dynamic impact, according to Karen Elliott, Senior Manager of the MCO Department, New Age Services Corporation.

“There was one client that had not communicated with her family and was able to learn how to create a Facebook account where she was able to connect with her son and other family members she had become estranged from,” said Elliott. “She related that it gave her newfound hope.”

For i.c.stars participants, the work is also meaningful. “If you’re able to instruct someone, then you’re learning how to communicate with others,” said i.c.stars alumnus and volunteer Damien Lee.…” Someone needed help using Word, another person needed help using Excel, so I showed her [online course] Udemy.”

i.c.stars model is about more than technology jobs training. The curriculum combines community service and social justice with market-ready technology skills. The impact: graduates gain high-paying jobs and work to drive change in their communities.

“You just realize that there are a lot of needs - and we have qualifications to help someone. It may not be coding, but it’s still using technology to help,” said recent graduate Eric Hall of his visit to New Age. “I’m planning for an IT leadership position. Being a community leader has a lot to do with IT…i.c.stars definitely helped me see this.”

“It has been an inspiring experience,” remarked Elliott. “We are ready for i.c.stars next visit.”

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Formed in 1999, Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation (i.c.stars) is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization and social enterprise that prepares young adults for technology careers and community leadership. Using project-based learning and full-immersion teaching, i.c.stars has trained more than 350 individuals in Chicago, and places 90 percent of qualified graduates in jobs. Alumni see their annual earnings increase by an average of 450 percent as a result of the program. In 2016, i.c.stars launched an affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, and created Enterprise Next, a lean startup incubator to jumpstart alumni businesses. Learn more at www.icstars.org.

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
90%
Industry retention rate:
81%
College attendance rate:
55%
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
72%
Average 12-month earnings before program:
$10,790
Average 12-month earnings after program:
$44,010