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


Free Geek Chicago, 24 hours = Community

The great folks at Free Geek Chicago have put out a very nice video about the work they do and the role they play in the community technology movement in Chicago. Beyond the frames of Digital Divide and Digital Excellence, they see this as a matter of survival in the modern economy.

If you know anyone that needs a computer — make them aware that 24 hours of service at FGC will earn them their own refurbished machine, give them a new insight into the life-cycle of technology and should forge some great new friendships.

David Eads (featured in the video), one of the founders of FGC presented the CDAA’s Digital Excellence Advocate Award to Carl Davidson on Friday Oct. 29, at DEXCON2010. FGC is established at the location of Carl’s former TechTrain program.

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?

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.

Digital Excellence – More Than Just A Catchphrase

The phrase emerged from an idea – to get beyond the sort of cryptic “digital divide” – in an age of PDAs, netbooks and smartphones, the notion that people couldn’t get connected if they wanted was attacked as outmoded – and “digital inclusion” – which was seen as another touchy-feeling condescending phrase cajoling those that had to give to those supposedly locked out.

“Digital excellence”, said Michael Maranda, the man who attached it to the CDAA’s 2007 Community Benefits Agreement, is a standard, a benchmark, representing where we want to go and how we, as citizens in a digital age, define how we use and master technology resources.

It was a standard, said Maranda, that we, as a community set, not one imposed on us. We want to be more than consumers of technology or users of technology, but masters of technology in creating a more open and inclusive society where digital technologies allowed us to connect and share when and where and how we want.

The idea caught on. Julia Stasch, VP of Community Development at MacArthur Foundation and Chair of the The Mayor’s Committee To Eliminate The Digital Divide, convened as part of the process to solicit builders for a citywide wi-fi network, embraced the phrase and the vision it represented. She asked the Chicago Digital Access Alliance to present its vision of digital excellence to the full committee, and on a cold first Monday in February (February 5) of 2007, we did just that, in a Powerpoint slide presentation called “Digital Excellence: The Vision”.

“Digital Excellence: The Vision” inspired and informed the groumdbreaking report, “The City That Networks:  Transforming Society And Economy Through Digital Excellence.”

At the official unveiling of that report, on June 15, 2007, in a speech given by Julia Stasch, Vice President of Community Development,  MacArthur Foundation, at the Community Media Workshop Media Summit,  Ms. Stasch acknowledged the long-standing history of neighborhood technology activism in Chicago and the conceptual framework – created by the community around digital excellence – that was the report’s platform.

“Digital excellence” became the conceptual benchmark adopted by foundations (the Knight and New America Foundation among others), cities pursuing digital inclusion strategies and most important, the Chicago neighborhood technology access community’s self-defining goal and standard.

Chicago’s city government launched what it called its “digital excellence initiative”, embraced and championed the “digital demonstration communities” framework, and presented them as the indicators of a consciousness about digital inclusion in Chicago that other cities could model.

The practitioners, meanwhile, continued to see “digital excellence” as an evolving measurement of a new, more open way of collaboration, information sharing and community development.

And so, three years later, the practice of open stewardship – of information, resources and initiatives – is gaining traction among those who have always practiced a collective not selective philosophy and those who see in the new paradigm an empowerment solution that may break the restrictive lines of suspicion, competition and mistrust that have plagued community efforts for years and decades.

“Digital excellence” – it began as a redefinition, evolved into a benchmark standard and now is the vanguard of an expansive movement. More than just a catchphrase.

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!