Category: Illinois Technology Association

CAAT mentioned in Sun Times over the weekend

A nice mention of our new high school by Sandra Guy in the Chicago Sun Times over the weekend… it’s really exciting to interact with many of these kids… a huge THANK YOU to all of the companies and individuals that have helped fund and support this new school. Much work to be done, but the second freshmen class is now being recruited!

<strong><a href=”,CST-NWS-ECOL01.article” target=”_blank”>Tech-driven curriculum powers new high school ::  CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Sandra Guy</a></strong>
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Honoring Illinois Fifty for the Future

Four years ago Fred Hoch and I sat in an airport lounge talking about how many innovative, talented students are educated in Illinois but slip away to other regions after graduation. We created an initiative to identify and recognize the fifty brightest students graduating from area colleges and universities that would eventually become leaders of the local technology community. From that first year scouring the state for the best talent we could identify, the program has now matured and tonight we celebrated the 2010 recipients of the Fifty for the Future program, an initiative of our Illinois Technology Foundation.


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A huge thank you to CompTIA for $150k donation to CAAT

Last year we started a new high school focused on technology and entrepreneurship. CAAT is a public high school operated by private partnership with Chicago Public Schools, and we’re now recruiting our second freshman class. These are motivated kids from the inner city that seek a better quality education, one infused with mentorship and interaction from local technology leaders.

Funding for this school is dependent on the generous support of local companies, and two weeks ago we were able to announce a $150k donation from CompTIA, the global IT trade association based in the Chicago area. CompTIA’s donation is a challenge grant, with a call to other local companies and organizations to match and support their contribution to help solidify the future of CAAT.

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Students from Chicago Tech Academy reflect on their first months

Just over a year ago we came together to found the Chicago Academy of Advanced Technology, and the school became a reality for 150 freshmen in September. We drew kids from all across Chicago, there were no entry requirements, except a motivation to work hard and learn.

CAAT Students

This is a new kind of high school in the inner city of Chicago, where kids have a chance to develop an aptitude that will transform their lives. The volunteers and donors of the Chicago tech community are critical to the success of this school, and will soon discover more opportunities to engage with the students.

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The public & private partnership behind CAAT

… increasing the number of stakeholders in public education… giving private-sector leaders an opportunity to give back and play a role in public school education is a fundamental opportunity for systemic change.

A nice article on the evolution of CAAT, from and for the perspective of government tech leaders.

I hope to share some nice announcements about our new high school over the next couple of weeks, stay tuned!

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Keep Chicago 2016 alive… an open letter to the media and community on behalf of education

Chasing an Olympic vision brought together Chicago’s government, civic and corporate leaders in a way this town has rarely seen. It was an exciting, big idea for the city of Chicago.

There were questions about the real value of the Games, whether the city could afford them, or whether the current leaders could pull them off successfully.  But we heard how a generation of kids might benefit from the Olympic spirit, and how Chicago would build infrastructure to help our city and economy grow.

The amount of money, time and energy marshaled toward chasing the Olympics was unprecedented.  Major corporations stepped forward, local foundations donated money, and small shops proudly displayed their support for Chicago’s bid.

Refocus that effort toward meeting Chicago’s most pressing needs. Chicago 2016 should become an initiative for real education reform in Chicago. These same leaders should shift their focus and considerable heft toward creative ways to fix a failing system.  This is not a problem unique to Chicago, but Chicago could become a shining example for American education.

Make Chicago a world-class city by making our public education system actually work and align it with our city’s future. Instead of inspiring kids with the Games, let’s give generations of kids the skills to create and fill the jobs of their future. Let the infrastructure we build be a foundation to escape poverty and violence that traps many of Chicago’s families and limits Chicago’s economy and global competitiveness.

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Keep Chicago 2016, channel to a better social vision

2016-chicago-olympics-logoAn excellent article by Dennis Byrne in the Tribune, and well worth the read.  The civic support for this Olympic vision was significant… if we could channel that into meeting Chicago’s social needs then something great could be achieved.

Keep the name — Chicago 2016 — signaling the community’s intent to create a bright new city, without the motivation of securing the Olympics. Imagine if the same levels of skill and determination were put to use raising bushels of cash for the things that Chicago hasn’t been able to afford.

Money for cash-strapped civic and charitable institutions. Money for badly needed new ones. Not only would these institutions no longer have to worry about their own revenues from charitable contributions getting gobbled up by the Olympics, but also they would enjoy additional funds from the New Chicago 2016 effort.

Chicago’s a great, world-class city, and I’m proud it’s my home.  But there are far too many social needs unmet.

I’ve now seen first hand the abysimal state of public education in our community, and the news is full of crime and violence from kids without real stakeholders willing to engage them. 

If just a portion of Chicago 2016’s passion, organization, money and private sector effort were to go toward real education reform, the community could break cycles of poverty and empower generations of future leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in the community.

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4th Annual SmartBet Charity Tournament for Chicago

SmartBet 2009

SmartBet 2009

The fourth annual SmartBet charity poker tournament ( will be held September 17th in the Chicago Cultural Center. 

And great news… this year one of the prime beneficiaries will be CAAT, the Chicago Academy of Advanced Technology ( This is the new public high school focused on technology and entrepreneurship that we’ve worked so hard to launch.  I’m proud to tell you the school opens on September 8 for our new freshman class!

The SmartBet poker tournament is a blast… hundreds of local technology executives and entrepreneurs, an open bar, great food and a staff of professional dealers. You don’t have to be a poker star to play… beginners are welcome, and will definitely have fun.

SmartBet supports charities that develop young people to become Chicago’s future technology leaders. This year the three primary charities are CAAT, i.c. Stars and Future Founders… all great programs that are making a huge difference for the future of our community and industry.  All together, seven charities will benefit from your generous support.

Would you buy a table for $2500, and bring along your friends and associates to play?  Or for a little bit larger donation, we’ll seat you at our special “High Rollers for Charity” table, where I promise you’ll have a great time and help these wonderful charities in our tech community.  Or if you just want to come alone and show off your poker skills, single seats are available for $250.

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ITA Chairman’s Dinner on Education

UPDATE: This even has been postponed to August to acomodate a larger gathering. More details will be announced soon.

If you’re interested in attending this invitation-only dinner and discussion, please feel free to contact me or register through the ITA.

Education and the Competitiveness of Chicagoland Companies

Two Million Minutes trailerWe’ll enjoy a private screening of the documentary Two Million Minutes, which compares the high school education of students in China, India and the United States.

America faces a crisis in education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM education). Right here at home, Chicagoland students fall well behind their counterparts around the globe. Nothing has a more direct impact on future competitiveness and innovation for our companies, and private sector leaders can become engaged as part of the solution today.

Two Million Minutes: a four year high school education

ITA Chairman’s Dinners are roundtable discussions where we dive deep on an important subject, and everyone contributes.

Dinner guests include Rick Stephens, senior executive at Boeing and a nationally engaged volunteer on education, Glen Tullman CEO of Allscripts and an education reform advocate, and Bob Compton a successful tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and producer of the documentary.

Your chance to influence curriculum, and the new Chicago high school for technology and entrepreneurship

We will also discuss local efforts like the new Chicago Academy of Advanced Technology (CAAT), a public high school opening in September with heavy involvement from the private sector.

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