Colorful Wintrust Mural in the Gray of Winter Features an Organization Celebrating its 25th Anniversary Jumpstarting Tech Careers for Low-Income Adults in Chicago
CHICAGO – Today, award-winning technology and leadership workforce nonprofit, i.c.stars, announced that its Co-Founder and CEO Sandee Kastrul is transitioning to a new role as the Chief Innovation Officer for the nonprofit’s Innovation lab.
Chicago, July 31, 2023— i.c.stars announced today that CEO Sandee Kastrul will be inducted into the Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame at the In-Gala on August 3rd. Ms. Kastrul was one of four distinguished leaders in innovation who were honored for their accomplishments in Chicago’s innovation community.
Ms. Kastrul, i.c.stars founder and former teacher, brings a personal awareness of the range of problems and barriers faced by marginalized communities. Her continued relationships in underresourced neighborhoods help assure that program goals remain relevant and impactful. “Diversity is the ultimate driver of innovation” said Kastrul. “Through technology training, community leadership, and wraparound support, we prepare young adults for the jobs and opportunities of the future. We help employers see the value in non-traditional talent pipelines—value to their bottom line and our society. It’s a win-win approach that helps build Chicago’s innovation community.”
“The Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame […]
Jeremy worked at a factory for five years before i.c.stars, making just a dollar over minimum wage at the time of his departure. “I looked at my boss– the manager and a nice guy—he had worked there for 26 years doing the same thing all that time. I thought, wow, there’s no career ladder here, no better future. I knew I had to do something, but school would have been tough to do while working.”
Always interested in technology, Jeremy saw an article in the newspaper ‘RedEye’ about a technology networking event called: ‘OpenGov Hack Night’. He attended, met people in the field and was introduced to i.c.stars. “There was no cost for training, and we got a stipend. While the stipend wasn’t much, through an upcoming income tax return and some savings, it was possible for me to make this change. I was accepted into i.c.stars and joined Cycle […]
I found out about i.c.stars from my girlfriend—she’s my fiancé now. I liked their non-conventional approach, self-teaching, problem solving and learning by doing. It was right for me. They teach you how to find answers and that’s a skill that doesn’t go out of date. One of the things that impress me was the ability to network with truly influential people. This was a constant around i.c.stars and we were encouraged to make the most of their time. They opened my eyes to the endless opportunities that we had, options that I didn’t know even existed. They gave clarity and perspective to what we were doing and pointed out the best ways to accomplish goals. They helped us find the same leadership in ourselves. I learned how to help others, to see their point of view and lift them up. That’s helped me see the customer’s point of view […]
Before i.c.stars I was working and volunteering at my son’s school. Money was tight but I was getting by, then Covid hit and everything shut down. I had to find something but didn’t know what was out there.
I first learned about i.c.stars from a friend of mine. She’d graduated from the program and told me it was great, life-changing, even. I thought, hum I wonder if this is something I could do? My son was taking a coding class for middle school and that was very interesting for me. I was always good at solving puzzles. I loved puzzles and I could see where the code was off, even if I didn’t know coding. In my house, I was called Ms. Electronics because I could fix anything, set up the internet or TV. So I was interviewed for the i.c.stars program and I was excited right […]
CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Microsoft Corp., in collaboration with corporate, learning and community partners, today announced the launch of Accelerate Chicago. The program aims to reach 300,000 Chicago residents to provide a pathway from skilling to employment for community members to bridge the digital skills divide and route people to diverse and equitable hiring and re-employment opportunities. Job seekers in Chicago can start their journey toward their career reinvigoration today, with programs, events, and opportunities available now at microsoft.com/accelerateskills
“As Chicago builds its economy back in the wake of COVID-19,” said Deb Cupp, President of Microsoft U.S. “the Accelerate program expands economic opportunity and provides the skills needed to support an inclusive, equitable recovery. We’re proud to work with our civic, learning, and corporate partners to bring this program to Chicago.”
“Especially given the socioeconomic fallout of this crisis, we have been laser-focused on identifying […]
i.c.stars authored an Op-Ed in Crains:
A recent Crain’s Equity story on the lack of diversity in the tech field pointed out several issues that have kept minority participation low. A lack of strong STEM programs in high schools with predominantly minority enrollment, the tribal nature of hiring or the limited recruiting pool are just a few issues that were mentioned.
Fiserv : Minority-Owned Small Businesses in Chicago Can Now Apply for Back2Business Grants from Fiserv
Approximately $1 million in grants available to businesses based in the city of Chicago or Cook County
BROOKFIELD, Wis., February 16, 2021 – Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV), a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions, today
announced it is accepting grant applications from minority-owned small businesses based in the city of Chicago or Cook County as part of its ongoing
Back2Business program. The program is designed to help support minority-owned businesses that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19