From: Sandee Kastrul
Subject: i.c.stars to Launch Social Enterprise and New Training Program
i.c.stars to Launch Social Enterprise and New Training Program
After a decade of service in the Chicago community, i.c.stars is evolving and growing. The 16-week, job-training and placement program that we provide our interns is becoming a social enterprise providing program participants with two years of training and employment experience to prepare them for more advanced jobs in the IT industry.
Three Phases of Growth: Founded in 1999, i.c.stars focused its early efforts on creating and implementing an innovative business, leadership and technology-training program. During the second phase of its life cycle, i.c.stars demonstrated repeatable results by expanding its program and developing a standard curriculum.
The program has grown considerably over the years due to market demand and the number of young adults seeking quality IT training and leadership development. Having succeeded in its initial efforts, i.c.stars is embarking on a third development phase to dramatically scale our program and realize the full measure of our mission.
This expansion will enable i.c.stars to provide opportunities for more inner-city young adults and harness the strength of business for social and economic leadership. By integrating business training and leadership development, i.c.stars is shaping the next generation of community leaders.
Bridges Leads the Way: In 2005, i.c.stars launched a pilot program called Bridges. Through Bridges, i.c.stars alums provided technology and Internet marketing services to paying clients. The program has grown considerably over the last five years.
Based on the success of Bridges, the growing market demand for IT and Business services and the need to provide our graduates with more real-life, hands-on experience, we see an opportunity to create a sustainable and growth-oriented social enterprise that will enable our interns to profit from rigorous on-the-job learning.
The new social enterprise will allow our affiliate employers to benefit from i.c.stars as a source of more seasoned talent. It will enable our alums to enter the technology profession armed with more substantial technology and business work experience. It also will provide our alums with relevant educational credentials. All participants will enroll in an Associates Degree night school program as part of their i.c.stars work requirements.
To help build capacity as a social enterprise, i.c.stars is establishing a number of partnerships. The first has been a working group with the Latino Technology Alliance to develop a plan for replicating the model. Additional partnerships with education providers and technology providers are underway. As i.c.stars launches this social enterprise, we remain steadfast in our mission to create job opportunities for inner-city adults and help alumni give back to their communities. i.c.stars also will continue to provide pro bono services to the non-profit community while building a sustainable business model to support its programs.
Impact of Program Changes
Since 1999, i.c.stars has been providing talent for Chicago-area businesses by preparing its graduates through an intensive, 16-week training program and related work experience. The new model is designed to move our graduates up the value chain to enter the workforce with two years of experience and an Associates Degree. The shift is designed to provide Employers with a relevant source of technology-proficient business associates in an increasingly automated world where work can be done anywhere.
Foundation guidance and funding has enabled i.c.stars to complete the first two phases of its life cycle. Continued guidance and funding from Foundations is critical as i.c.stars enters the third phase and evolves into a self-sustaining and scalable model.
One of the critical success factors identified during the second phase of i.c.stars was the network of Sponsors and event participants. The relationships Sponsors build during i.c.stars events among the industry, community and i.c.stars participants make the model work over the long term. As part of the program changes, we will roll out a compelling new event strategy to further enhance Sponsor relationship opportunities.
Community partners play an essential role at i.c.stars by referring candidates to Web Studio programs; often the first step in identifying potential candidates for the i.c.stars’ professional development program. i.c.stars will continue to provide the one-day, technology training sessions for candidates referred by community organizations.
i.c.stars offers a rich experience for Volunteers who provide support and training to program participants. Our new model will allow Volunteers to build stronger, long-term relationships with i.c.stars interns and help them achieve their career goals over a longer period of time.
i.c.stars is committed to maintaining the values, quality and vision that Alums experienced as i.c.stars interns. The new program is an evolution, rooted in the success of the Bridges program. i.c.stars looks to its valued Alums to help develop the next-generation curriculum to support the new business model. Recent i.c.stars graduates will be eligible to participate in the new venture.
i.c.stars is retooling its program to create sustainable career opportunities for Interns.Candidates previously accepted to i.c.stars program will be the first to pioneer our new model. Interns will receive an updated program schedule in advance of the changes.
Thank you to the 20,000 volunteers, sponsors, individual supporters, and interns who have engaged with i.c.stars in its first 10 years. We are very excited to embark on this next phase together.
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Ways You Can Help
Refer Job Leads to i.c.stars Alums
Refer a Social Enterprise Funder/Investor
Refer a Client to i.c.stars
President and co-founder
212 W. Superior Suite 300
Chicago IL. 60610
i.c.stars is a Chicago-based non-profit organization formed in 1999 to develop 1,000 Community Leaders by 2020. Adults with a high school diploma or GED participate in an intensive four-month program using project-based learning and full immersion teaching to develop change-driven, future leaders skilled in business and technology. Visit www.icstars.org for more information.