The Southwest Smart Communities Initiative
This web portal is one of many tools that will help create tech-savvy communities for the Southwest Smart Communities Initiative (SCCI), comprising three Chicago neighborhoods — Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn and Englewood.
The mission of the SCCI is a Digital & Social Link (DSL) between the three neighborhoods with the following goals:
- Connect the three communities to reduce the historical physical, cultural and digital divides between the areas
- Enhance the existing digital systems through working with community members, gatekeepers and technology expert to identify the most efficient and appropriate technologies to serve the community
- Improve access to the Web by making it more accessible to residents, schools, small businesses and city colleges within the three communities
The initiative is the result of a collaborative planning effort that brought together representatives from community-based organizations in the three neighborhoods and more than 100 residents. Those participants created the Southwest Smart Communities Plan, which provides a framework of ideas and projects for local implementation. For example:
- Neighbors involved in trainings to use digital technology to improve their daily lives.
- Students use broadband technology in new digital media labs in school.
- Local entrepreneurs visit business centers where they can learn more about using software to become more efficient — and more profitable.
A First Step, A Big Step
These programs and projects are catalysts. No one program is sufficient to provide all the digital resources a community needs. But by jumpstarting a culture of technology, we can support and enhance the values of our neighborhoods on the Southwest Side.
SCCI is part of a larger program, the Smart Communities program. A major plank of the City of Chicago’s Digital Excellence Initiative, the Smart Communities Program is managed and supported by LISC/Chicago and funded in part through a $7 million federal Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (B-TOP) grant. The support is allowing the local partners in the five Smart Communities, Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Humboldt Park and Pilsen, to provide enhanced access to broadband technology and training, and opportunities to earn hardware and software for more than 11,000 residents and 360 small businesses and nonprofits, with the goal of overcoming barriers to technological access that exist in many parts of the city.