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Our Blog

i.c.stars Gets $100K From Walmart to Expand its Youth Tech Program to More Cities

September 9, 2016

ChicagoInno covers i.c.stars Walmart Foundation expansion grant.

$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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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:

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I Am Proud of You

Recently, I took a trip to Sarasota, Florida to visit my great, great, great aunt, who isn’t really my aunt. But she is my aunt because she’s special and she most certainly is great. It was her 99th birthday. She is exactly what comes to mind when you think of a 99-year old. She is the aunt who has always shown up. She gave me space to dream. She was at my 8th grade graduation. She took me to see my first play, and that changed my life. And of course, this aunt comes with cousins.

Alumni and their Mentors: Mohammed and Don


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The Maker Factory: Leadership is Transformational


At i.c.stars, we are constantly reworking and tweaking our process, curriculum and delivery. But the core of what we do, which is transformation, never changes (ironically). The hardest part of being an intern is meeting your transformed self face to face. You hardly recognize yourself. Your loved ones say, “You have changed,” sometimes accompanied by a frown. Sometimes with a smile of pure pride. Sometimes we are taken with the reaction and we must remind ourselves If they confronted their own fears, they could fully transform themselves and the communities in which we all work, live and serve. It is fear that makes us frown.

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Leadership means making space for _______________.


A while back I was heading to the west side with one of our alumni to go talk to a group of young people. As we rode in the car, he said to me, “You know, Sandee, you’ve really created a culture of weirdos.” I was taken aback. “What do you mean? What’s weird?” He replied, “Just weirdos - I can’t I can’t put my finger on it. People from i.c.stars are weird. Even if I’ve never met them before, I know they are weird. We are all weird.”

I was confused. “What do you mean? I’m from the school of cool. I’m no weirdo. I may like Hello, Kitty and some other interesting things, but trust me - I’m cool like a cucumber.” He then reassured me that I was weird, and in fact, the QUEEN of the Weirdos!

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Diversity - One Word With Many Layers


When I was 14 years old I attended high school outside of my neighborhood. It was a big deal. I had to take three buses to attend school downtown. The school was a diverse performing arts school where we were trained to apply our thinking in one area to another. Our entire learning model was based in critical thinking and application. You had to show up with questions that were based on a theory or an idea that would join others ideas. We were trained to ask what if? We were being trained as artists.

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Time Demands Your Respect


Everyone has heard the saying, “Time is the only thing we can not get back.” It’s true. Many books have been written and many books have been read about how to manage and maximize time. Our latest cycle of interns just completed the first sprint of their client engagement with TTX. They are now about to start the infamous “Geek Week,” while the client decides which solution best fits their needs. Reflecting on the time I spent observing them during the past week, three things stood out to me related to time.

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IT Sisters of Support


A few weeks ago, the SWIT group – Senior Women in IT – descended upon i.c.stars. This happened because Cycle 34 was the largest women’s cycle i.c.stars has ever seen and the women of cycle 35 worked diligently to build relationships with Women in IT who had forged a path to leadership. Ten out of our fourteen interns were women, and you could really feel the difference. The gender balance shaped how our entire network experienced i.c.stars for four months, and needless to say, it was pretty terrific.

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Cranes of Peace: The Magic Behind the Fold


The i.c.stars curriculum can be divided into three buckets. One is the project-based learning environment, built on the foundation of our brilliant and resilient interns. They already have whole toolkit - we’re providing a context for them to unpack it. We do very little pre-teaching. It’s really all about experiencing and learning through meetings and deliverables set by their clients, and then post-teaching at the whiteboard and debrief sessions.

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: