One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for December 2012

Happy Holidays!

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Although there’s no blog post scheduled for today (taking the day off to spend with family), I wanted to briefly wish you and your families a wonderful and safe holiday season.

More posts are coming, so 2013 should prove to be one of activity, and for our readers – we will continue to follow trends in tech and social good in Chicago.

As always, thanks for reading!



Written by gordondym

December 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

Venturing Towards Socially Beneficial Business

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It’s easy to think of using tech to drive social good via non-profits….but there’s a growing movement of businesses who are becoming more tech-savvy, but who also realize that benefiting the social good isn’t just a great idea, but can positively impact their bottom line.

Social entrepreneurship is the idea that business principles can be used to drive creative solutions for existing social problems. In January, Illinois will implement new legislation that recognizes benefit corporations – companies that change their bylaws in order to reflect their commitment to the social good.

In fact, the new Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise is charged by executive order to drive awareness and ultimately foster a sense of collaboration, examining factors which would help drive social change through creating new models of facilitating the social good.

(Full disclosure – I’m a volunteer on the Task Force. They did not solicit this blog post, and all opinions posted are my own).

The Task Force is not solely charged with tech innovation, but in finding and highlighting efforts across the spectrum. Hacker spaces, grassroots community organizations, cooperatives, and other entities are welcome to engage with the Task Force.  Currently, the Task Force is seeking input on recommendations they can make to the Governor in January….if you wish to interact and/or contact the Task Force, you can visit their web site at, and the group has a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In.

As the year comes to an end, we’re seeing the groundwork for a slightly brighter future…where social good is no longer the sole province of non-profit organizations. The Task Force is the best first step towards that future.

And as always, please leave comments below or feel free to contact me privately via Linked In or my web site’s contact page.

Thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

December 19, 2012 at 3:29 am

Meet Your Neighbor: Chicago Digital Access Alliance

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Admittedly, the past week has been busy for me, between continuing a job search and taking care of some family issues. But thankfully, I was able to reengage with an organization that I have worked with via Net Tuesday (or our relatively new title, Net2Chi)….and which I’m proud to introduce (or reintroduce) via this blog.

The Chicago Digital Access Alliance has been working to drive digital excellence in the city of Chicago for the past six years. In accordance with their principles, they have been working to make sure critically underserved communities receive access (both in terms of broadband and software) to technology. For the Alliance, such work is necessary for overall community development.  From their perspective,

Achieving Digital Excellence requires ongoing community participation, recognized expertise in the field of digital literacy and an integrated strategy grounded in the needs and aspirations of the people. Digital Excellence will not be attained as a digital afterthought of the Vendors to the Wireless network.

Thankfully, the Alliance has had two achievements in the past few months – achievements which, although small, will allow them to make a much greater impact upon the greater community.

One is acquiring a new office on Cottage Grove, near the Green Line stop. Literally steps from the El, the new CDAA office – the group’s first “permanent” home – will serve as an incubator for digital businesses, a refurbishing center for older computers, and a training/meeting center for organizations. Pierre Clark, who leads the alliance, is working with other leadership in redeveloping the Woodlawn neighborhood, and the CDAA’s new office will allow for the neighborhood to have their own digital center.

But the other major development is the establishment of the Woodlawn Broadband Expansion Partnership. Created in the shadow of the Chicago Broadband Challenge, the Partnership is spearheading efforts to not just bring digital excellence and digital literacy to Woodlawn, but to transform it into a leading-edge community, establishing it as a “community of choice” (to quote the partnership) in the 21st century.

Chicago has a healthy, thriving population of consultants and experts who are willing to help non-profits become more tech-savvy. But driving the social good is more than just a class or a conference – it consists of more ground-level hands-on work that lacks immediate payoff, but has more longer lasting impacts. The fruits of the Chicago Digital Access Alliance’s efforts are only now being seen….and the best is yet to come, making them one neighbor definitely worth knowing.

Please feel free to comment below, or to contact me privately via LinkedIn or e-mail. And as always, thanks for reading!

Helping Non-Profits Get Hands On With Tech

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For many non-profits in the Chicago area, making the transition to using technology – including hardware, software, and even web-based tools – can be a very daunting and intimidating task. It’s not just about affordability or digital literacy – it’s about navigating a relatively new field.

Thankfully, there’s a really great player in the field – Hands On Tech.

Hands On Tech (which is part of Hands On Suburban Chicago) is a local organization that provides training, staffing, and resources to help non-profits become more savvy in using tech. (In fact, they’ll be holding a presentation on non-profits and cloud computing this Thursday). Their mission is “to increase the nonprofit sector’s use of technology to build community resources and ultimately improve outcomes for low-income communities and families.”

Many of their trainings are done by volunteer presenters who know about their field and who can ease attendees into an ever-increasingly complicated field. All trainings and webinars are free to attend, and quite honestly, are well worth attending. In addition, Hands On Tech will perform some hands-on work with select non-profits, and even has an easy-to-complete online application.

In fact, Hands On Chicago has a variety of upcoming events, including:

In Chicago, there are a variety of organizations and resources for helping non-profits and other social good agents become more familiar with tech. (I should know – I’m one of them). But Hands On Tech is making a very active commitment to helping non-profits in the Chicago area….and they need to be recognized and promoted.

Any comments or questions? Please feel free to leave them below. In addition, please feel free to contact me privately via Linked In (just mention Chicago Now) or my web site’s contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!