Community TechKnowledge Foundation Grant Program

If you are inspired to wax poetic about your passion for technology and community technology access, the Community Techknowledge Foundation is offering you the opportunity to submit a 4-8 line poem and win cash for your efforts.

The newly-created foundation’s “Heart and Soul” Initiative offers $10,000 in grants and technology resources for submissions between March 1 and March 28. Uniquely, the winning submission will be recorded in a song and presented at the April 14, 2011 Foundation event in Austin, Texas.

Here is the website information:

and here is the video describing the program:

Community TechKnowledge Video


Digital Excellence – The 1st Conference – A Great Time!


” We must spread digital excellence across neighborhood and regional boundaries.” That sentiment, expressed by keynote speaker Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, informed the energy of Chicago’s first conference showcasing digital excellence in Chicago communities.

Chicago’s neighborhood technology experts, activists, leaders, and pioneers joined a dozen technology specialists from six (6) cities in a lively, high-energy series of workshops and roundtable sessions. The 1st Chicago Neighborhood Digital Excellence Conference and Technology Fair at Chicago’s DePaul University Egan Urban Center was part reunion, part think tank, part high-energy planning session, and part movement retrospective for the 80 or so participants.  The early feedback from conference participants? Here’s what Jennifer Hunt shared on the Digital Excellence Coalition Fan Page:

Thank you so very much for a wonderful conference! As someone brand new to the movement, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to such a wonderful community of experts, dreamers, activists, collaborators and stewards. I can’t wait to get to work!

For most of the attendees, in this reporter’s view, Jennifer Hunt’s energy and enthusiasm seemed to capture the info-sharing and learning experieces in the six (6) morning workshop sessions, luncheon and afternoon roundtables.

Here’s a wrtiter’s eye view of the conference from attendee Taran Rampersad:

Digital Excellence Workshop Participants

Digital Excellence Workshop Participants

Starting The Next Chapter


On Friday, October 29 we open the next chapter in the Community Technology, Networking and Community Empowerment Movement at the Digital Excellence Conference in Chicago at DePaul University:

  • Invitation — attend the most important event in the Community Technology/Digital Empowerment Sector in a decade – we’re rebuilding a movement – and we need your commitment and enthusiasm.
  • Invitation — spread the word – Let us know who is up and coming but who may have never connected to the national/global movement and Invite them! Help fund their travel! No one is late to the party!
  • Invitation — help us (re)build the movement in any way you can! If you are coming from out of town – let us know!

Three tracks:

  • Broadband: Expansion & Inclusion
  • Tools and Platforms
  • Collaboration Models and Community Building

Special Honorees: Carl Davidson, Julia Stasch and Rep. Constance Howard
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee


As a recognition of our common heritage, past members of the network are eligible for the early bird rate.

For more information or to donate/volunteer contact Pierre Clark. (312) 473-0373 or

Accelerate innovation and the movement – locally, globally

Charlie Havens recommended this video on the basis of the vision we have for Chicago and for a “working session to establish an organization and network in service to the field encompassing Community Technology, help Community Media and Community Networking, advice addressing and inviting all who have gathered to remediate Digital and Social Divides under banners of Literacy, case Access, Inclusion, Excellence and Justice.” Local and Global. Can we accelerate the change we need? Chris Anderson starts his TED conversation (below) with a focus on the field of Dance. What deliberate changes can we effect in our respective fields? What would the conversation and sharing look like? How can we step up our game?

Why A Digital Excellence Conference For Chicago

September 2010 CDAA FlyerYou may ask the question: Why a digital excellence conference in Chicago and why should you attend?  Who are we who are presenting this conference and what relevance does the conference have for you? Our answer is: if you are a citizen of Chicago and if you care about Chicago’s future as a world-class digitally-empowered city, then our conference is one you should consider attending. Here’s why.


We organized the 1st Chicago Neighborhood Digital Excellence Conference And Technology Fair to bring together the people – tech activists, academics, government officials, non-profit staff members – who represent a movement to empower local community residents with access to today’s technology tools – computer hardware and software – and the skills to use those tools for job creation, information sharing and economic development. Our conference attendees are the grassroots experts whose often-times volunteer work every day with local residents empowers them with skills to use digital tools to improve their lives and create future opportunities.


It may seem quaint now, the idea of a digital divide where technology tools were available and usable only by a relative few. But a digital divide still exists, based on income and knowledge now more than mere access to the tools themselves, as you’ll learn at the conference.


When many of us in the neighborhood technology movement joined it,  computers were expensive devices that only a few understood how to use. We wanted our kids and neighbors to have access to these machines because we could see a future where knowing how to use computers to access and process information would be critical to our ability to find and obtain a job, pay bills, and connect with services.

Now $50 cell phones pack the power of yesterday’s desktop PCs. Networked desktop computers and laptops are, according to some studies, in 98% of our public and catholic schools. If you want Internet access, say the critics of the notion of a digital divide, you can get it through wi-fi, phone dsl, local fiber-optics, cable or mobile broadband wimax. You can watch TV-quality video on devices ranging from a cell-phone to a 24″ touchscreen monitor.

So why are we still talking about a digital divide? Because the things we want to do with technology tools today are vastly different than what we could do even a decade ago, and the power to do those things – to broadcast streaming video, connect with each other through social networking sites, attend classes online, shop for life’s necessities or tap into government info services – require the kind of broadband access that eludes many of us based on income and availability.

Karen Mossberger’s report says in part that a significant percentage of Chicagoans – as high as 25% – are disconnected from the internet and broadband access and cite income – ability to pay – as the reason. The gaps persist and are higher in many low-income Chicago neighborhoods.

According to Frank Olasz with Lone Star Consulting, as a nation the United States is 22nd in the world in broadband access and adoption. And James Carlini of Carlini Associates has consistently criticized the lack of the kind of high-speed broaband infrastructure – 1 gigabit versus the 54mb to 100 mb we have now – that is commonly found in other countries around the world and is essential to our competitiveness in the new world marketplace and ability to create employment and wealth-building opportunities.


In our six (6) morning workshops and afternoon roundtable sessions, we connect you with the experts – people like Denise Zaccardi, Sandee Kastrul, Rose Mabwa, Michael Maranda, Lowry Taylor, Licia Knight, Vincent McCaskill and many others – who are working everyday in communities on the front lines of the digital access movement, helping residents, non-profits and small businesses build their skills. You’ll meet some of the managers of the more than $21 million in federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program funding received by Chicago to provide training for 22,000 residents and hundreds of public computing centers and find out their plans for bringing those training resources to your communities.


What kind of city do you want to live in? We’re in the second decade of the 21st century. What kind of life did you envision living in 2010? By most accounts, we’re in the third year of a world-wide economic recession that supposedly ended a year ago, but the effects of which are still rebounding through our everyday lives. Chicago as a city was in the running for the Olympics – but its infrastructure and use of digital tools and resources weren’t world-class.

At our conference, you’ll network, share with and learn from the grassroots experts who have a passion for building a connected Chicago, the kind of city the Chicago Digital Access Alliance envisioned when it partnered with the Mayor’s Committee To Eliminate The Digital Divide on the groundbreaking report, “The City That Networks: Transforming Community And Society Through Digital Excellence.”

We invite you to join us at our conference. To register, click here.

Rebuild and Reboot – Movement and Network

On October 30, following upon the Digital Excellence Conference convened by the Chicago Digital Access Alliance, we are holding a working session to establish an organization and network in service to the field encompassing Community Technology, Community Media and Community Networking, addressing and inviting all who have gathered to remediate Digital and Social Divides under banners of Literacy, Access, Inclusion, Excellence and Justice.

We believe that a new way of working together is emerging and that our message to our communities is more pertinent than ever, and that we are stronger when we establish resources in common and share solutions freely across the network.

This is not a relaunch.  It is something more profound.  We honor the heritage of our field by finding a way forward, one suited to our present situation, one that builds upon what we have learned.

We have much experience in this community, and we are clearly ready to refactor, rebuild and reboot the movement and the network.  We will determine the functions, services and capacities we need and desire for the field, and we will coordinate efforts to bring them online in a manner that serves the field as a whole, building upon capacities already under development when possible and operating from a perspective of shared, open stewardship.

We’re looking to grow our field, and to demonstrate it’s relevance to every facet of community and civic life.  Many are engaged in the work and have not found us, their peer-community.  We’re looking to establish a way for them to find us as we found each other, and for all to find a way to take up a meaningful share of the work.

We would love for all who wish to come to be there.  This is an open call to everyone serving our field.   You are invited to join the working meeting on October 30, or to step up in any way that may support this effort.  (All are likewise invited to attend the Digital Excellence Conference, October 29.)

Many have already expressed support for this endeavor, but not all are able to attend.  For some, the obstacle is scheduling, for others there are fiscal constraints.  Perhaps we can find creative ways to address the latter.

There will be several channels for involvement leading up to and following the meeting.  

First among them is a discussion list: All who wish to attend or otherwise support the work should subscribe and participate.  Please signify on that list whether you plan to join us for the meeting or if you can support this effort in some other way.

Please also spread the word on this meeting and the conference.  Tell us who you think should be there.  Better yet, tell them.

Michael Maranda
Rebuild-Reboot Committee

2010 Digital Excellence Advocate Awardees & Keynote Speaker Announced!

BREAKING NEWS! All three honorees receiving the CDAA Digital Excellence Advocate Awards have confirmed their appearance at the keynote luncheon of the 1st Chicago Neighborhood Digital Excellence Conference and Technology Fair Friday, tadalafil October 29, 2010, at DePaul University Egan Urban Center, 1 East Jackson Boulevard, Lower Level.

Pioneer CTC creator Carl Davidson, Julia Stasch, Vice President for Community Development at the MacArthur Foundation, and State Representative Constance Howard will be honored with Digital Excellence Advocate awards at the keynote luncheon. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, VP and the first Director of Media and Technology of the Joint Center For Political Studies in Washington, D.C.

The CDAA: Right Here, All The Time.

Digital Excellence Conference And Technology Fair FlyerWe’re back (so some would say)! But the news is, we never went away, we’ve just been going about our business without a lot of fanfare. Well, I guess that’s all about to change!

The Chicago Digital Access Alliance has news about some exciting and forward-looking projects it is hatching in  the coming months.

10-29-10: The Conference!

First, the CDAA is presenting our upcoming 1st Chicago Neighborhood Digital Excellence Conference and Technology Fair, Friday, October 29, 2010, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at DePaul University Egan Center, 1 East Jackson Boulevard, Lower Level.

The Conference features a full day of informative workshops, round-table sessions, a news-making keynote luncheon and recognition ceremony, and a networking social hour with neighborhood technology-digital excellence movers and shakers. But if you want to be there, the time to register is NOW, as registrations will be capped at 200. Want to register now? You can register here.


The CDAA has been busy in Chicago – in Bronzeville, Woodlawn, Englewood, on the West Side, in Humboldt Park, on the  North Side, and more. We’ve been establishing CTCs, developing technology plans, and helping residents connect to resources and opportunities. Follow us here to stay tuned to all the latest!