Our Blog

Our Blog

Solve Smart Cities and i.c.stars Work Together on Housing

April 19, 2018

Solve Smart Cities is an i.c.stars partner that has helped graduates of the program access housing. Read how this partnership helped Akia.

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The BLT and Tea Podcast with Sandee Kastrul

Sandee is launching her very own podcast called “The BLT and Tea Podcast”. A podcast where Business, Leadership and Technology intersect over a cup of Tea.

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The Year of The Women: "Nonetheless She Persisted"

We just celebrated Women’s Month, but I prefer to think of 2018 as Women’s Year!

I believe this is going to be a great year for women, in fact, we are already seeing such great advocacy around pay equity and support for women with the #MeToo movement. I just want to give a shout out to some of the great organizations here in Chicago that I love and that i.c. stars is blessed to be connected to.

i.c. stars announces Milwaukee leadership team

March 30, 2018

i.c. stars announces Milwaukee leadership team; TRUE Skool founder Sarah Dollhausen to manage the tech training program.

i.c.stars announces Milwaukee leadership team and immediate engagement opportunities for local businesses 

Contact: Hale Sargent for i.c.stars |* milwaukee, 414-501-5313

i.c.stars Announces Partnership with Software Firm NVISIA

CHICAGO—-March 28, 2018 Technology workforce development nonprofit i.c.stars announced a new partnership with software firm NVISIA.

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What we value: Opportunities, Lives, and Bullets

i.c.stars is growing, and as we grow we often have interesting conversations about “What’s next?” Recently I was having a chat with Tasha Levy, our Chief Learning Officer, about night school. We talked about forming a partnership with a co-working space at a national level, that would open up learning and leadership opportunities for i.c.stars all over the country.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Dohmen Co. brings tech training program for disadvantaged adults to Milwaukee

March 16, 2018

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Features The Dohmen Co.’s investment in i.c.stars to bring the tech training program for disadvantaged adults to Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Business Journal: The Dohmen Co. Helps Bring Chicago Tech Training to Milwaukee

March 15, 2018

The Milwaukee Business Journal Features the Dohmen Company’s investment to launch i.c.stars Milwaukee.

i.c.stars technology training program launches in Milwaukee with $1.6 million sponsorship from The Dohmen Company

Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Ferruelo for i.c.stars, 312-487-2208
Hale Sargent for The Dohmen Company, 414-501-5313

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i.c.stars Receives Warm Welcome at QTS Data Center Chicago

As we begin Cycle 40, i.c.stars would like to highlight a stellar engagement with sponsor QTS Data Centers. Cycle 39 was invited to tour their impressive new facility at the end of November, 2017.

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Sandee Kastrul featured on the Chicago Morning Takeover - WGCI

Listen to Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-Founder of i.c.stars, speak on the recent Wintrust event celebrating Black business leaders.

Developing the next generation of technology talent: Salesforce and i.c.stars

We are excited to announce that i.c.stars has received its largest grant ever from Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.

Red Foundry Announces Multi-City i.c.stars Sponsorship Agreement

January 29, 2018

Chicago-based tech workforce development program i.c. stars coming to Milwaukee

January 22, 2018

Milwaukee BizTimes announces the Milwaukee launch of Chicago-based tech workforce development program i.c. stars.

i.c.stars |* milwaukee is Ready to Launch!

i.c.stars Milwaukee

i.c.stars is coming to Milwaukee in 2018 and is now accepting applications!

IT Bootcamp i.c.stars Deploying Skills to Underemployed Communities

December 13, 2017

Columbus Underground Features i.c.stars: IT Bootcamp i.c.stars Deploying Skills to Underemployed Communities.

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.

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.

Black Tech Mecca Features i.c.stars in Chicago Report

October 2017

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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?!?!!

A Measurable Impact

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