Sunday, December 20, 2015

Chicago as a major center for Blacks in technology

Last update: Wednesday 3/2/16
Previous notes on this blog hailed New York NY, Washington DC, Atlanta GA, and Oakland CA as major centers for Blacks in technology, i.e., as urban communities wherein Black Americans could find significant opportunities for success within an economy increasingly driven by innovations in information technology. So why has it taken so long for this blog to "discover" Chicago IL, the nation's third most populous city?

Most Black Americans have received disappointing services from all levels of public and private systems of education. Therefore I tried to identify cities wherein innovative grass roots operations have emerged in the last few years, outside of the mainstream, programs that promote training in tech and the development of entrepreneurial skills in tech. 

  • Oakland attracted attention in the national media because its most successful tech activists -- e.g., Black Girls Code, YesWeCode, and Qeyno Labs -- quickly established operations in other cities.
  • New York was hard to miss because, as the nation's largest city (pop. approx. 8.4 million) traditional media automatically covered some of its local activities. However it's important to note that, as of this writing, I am unaware of any community-based New York programs that have established operations outside of New York. 
Why is that? How did a small city like Oakland (pop. approx.  400,000) establish so many outside operations, whereas Gotham hasn't produced any so far? As a one-time urban planner, I have to consider the potential impact of scale and density. New York is a mega-colossus, some of whose "neighborhoods" have populations almost as large as Oakland's. Indeed, a New York program that started in Harlem would count activities in the South Bronx and Brooklyn as "outside" operations ... :-)

Which brings me back to Chicago (pop. approx. 2.7 million). Although much smaller than New York, it's almost seven times as large as Oakland.  So it would take longer for activist programs in Chicago to consider opportunities outside their city limits. However within the last six months, at least one Chicago program has become strong enough to escape the powerful gravitational pull of its urban core ==> BLUE1647

Whereas the most acclaimed Oakland initiatives focus on tech training for Black and Latino youth, the programs page on BLUE1647's Website shows its more extensive scope as a "technology innovation center". In addition to programs in tech for disadvantaged school aged minorities, BLUE1647 also offers job skills training for adults, programs for women in technology, job placement services, and programs for tech entrepreneurs. 

Tangible evidence of the ongoing success of the BLUE1647 initiative is provided by its 2015 impact summary -- a concise infographic that provides impressive metrics related to its programs, enrollments, scope of operations, and milestones.

The following paragraphs list DLL Storyfies for a few BLUE1647 events in the last six months:

And here are a few tweets about some of the recent achievements of BLUE1647 and its founder Emile Cambry:

*** Grand opening of BLUE1647 tech innovation center in St Louis MO 

*** Cambry's inclusion in Ebony magazine's Power 100

*** Cambry at the White House with U.S. CTO Megan Smith

*** Upcoming programs -- cyber security, veterans
  1.  Dec 18 Coming soon for : cyber security program and veterans programs.

Related notes on this blog:

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