In celebration of this week’s #IdeasChat theme (Music), CIW hosted a Turntable.fm party. The room was packed and the music was bumping. Thanks to everyone who participated. Stay tuned for details on the next one!
Want to join in on even more idea-sharing? Read along with the CIW Team with the launch of their book club!
This month’s read is authored by CIW 2012 Speaker, A.J. Jacobs. A self-titled “human guinea pig”, A.J. attempts to become the healthiest person alive in his newest book Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.
In conjunction with the reading, watch A.J.’s talk “How Eating Healthy Nearly Killed Me” at TED here.
Share your thoughts about the book with us here or on our social channels by mentioning @chicagoideas and use the hashtag #CIWReads.
Happy July Reading!
Getting Housing on the Agenda for Social Change
Several years ago Bill Gates got everyone excited about making capitalism more creative. He touted the abilities of the private sector to bring about real change in the lives of those who live on less than a dollar a day. And just last month, Christianity Today editor Mark Galli, while heralding the important role of the church in caring for the poor, proclaimed that the government is by far the best institution to raise the poor’s standard of living.
So why do 1.6 billion people continue to lack adequate shelter? Why is it so difficult to get housing on the agenda for social change? I think perceptions are largely to blame. The reality is that housing is not a product. It’s a process, and housing at all economic levels has to be set in the context of community, involving many people and organizations.
Affordable housing is foundational both to families and to the communities in which they live. Adequate shelter is inextricably connected to education, to health and to job opportunities. If we are to adequately address the complex issues of poverty, we must include affordable housing in the discussion, and the public, private and social sectors have to come together.
The public sector creates the context and environment for private investment in housing. Governments regulate land use and establish infrastructure. Affordable housing works best when it is in the right location—near transit systems, shopping areas and good schools—and when it is close to the areas where residents work.
Thriving communities also require investment from the private sector, which has the unique ability to mobilize capital and create scale. With the upper end of the market overbuilt, we are seeing new models that are incorporating some very creative ideas. For example, a private developer in Australia’s elite Victoria Harbor sold the lowest three floors of an eight-story upscale apartment building to Melbourne Affordable Housing, which, in turn, is selling the units to those who work in service industries. By offering more modest homes on the three lowest floors with no harbor views, the numbers worked for the developer, and low- and middle-income families were able to afford housing in the area where they work.
Finally, a common thread in successful community development projects all around the world is the engagement of the local community. This seems obvious, but it is amazing how often the voices of those who will be directly affected—particularly in low-income areas— are left out of the conversation. The hard work of bringing people together is what the nonprofit sector does particularly well.
I believe we must develop new and integrative housing solutions because the reality is that if children don’t live in decent homes, the odds of their staying healthy plummet. If they’re not healthy, they don’t do well in school; and if they don’t get an education, they don’t get decent jobs, meaning they won’t be able to care for their families. All the pieces have to line up if we are going to maintain healthy and thriving communities.
Jonathan Reckford is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.
People are loving this pic!
Blue = where locals take pictures in Chicago.
Red = where tourists snap pics. How fascinating!
This year we received over 200 applications from businesses and organizations around the world - all vying for 3 spots as part of the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship.
We’re excited to announce 14 of these social innovators as our 2012 Semi-Finalists:
Mark Arnoldy, 25: Nyaya Health
David Auerbach, 31: Sanergy
Michael Carter, 24: Strive for College
Micaela Connery, 25: Unified Theater
Elizabeth Dearborn Davis, 27: Akilah Institute for Women
Sasha Fisher, 23: Spark MicroGrants
Khalil Fuller, 20: NBA Math Hoops
Eric Glustrom, 27: Educate!
Dan MacCombie, 26: Runa
Toni Maraviglia, 29: MPrep
Rustam Sangupta, 31: Boond Engineering & Development Pvt.
Julia Silverman, 24: Uncharted Play, Inc
Jacob Wertz, 25: Urban Prep Fellows Program
Jacob Wood, 29: Team Rubicon
We’re thrilled to have received applications from so many incredible world-changing organizations. Choosing the Fellows will be no easy task! Learn more about our semi-finalists by visiting their websites.
Stay tuned for an announcement of the BHSI Fellows on July 16, 2012!
CIW Idea Award: Star Teacher winner, Demian LePointe, has been a special education teacher for 17 years. As his last year as a teacher, he has helped impact the lives of many students. Starting the 2012 school year as the Co-Department Chair of Special Education at Deerfield High School, Demain will help the department use technology as “the great equalizer” to better empower student learning. We think Demian’s story is so inspiring. Read on below for his motivating story!
My big Idea was a Paperless classroom for disabled learners. I am a special education teacher that came to this field as a calling. My roots in this field came from very personal experiences. Learning was always very difficult for me as a child and when I was in 4th grade I was diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability. I was never taught, at the time, what that meant - just that I learned differently. I interpreted that as I was dumb. I never made a connection on how or why I tested into math science academics. After High School, I thought I was too dumb to go on to college. I worked in construction for about three years until I met my now wife. When she asked why I never went to college, I told her that I was not smart enough to go to college. At her behest, I went to a community college and received a 4.0 my first year.
This is where I had my first experience with technology as the great equalizer.
I was in my English 101 course with an amazing teacher. Every session together she taught us a style of writing and gave writing homework with which to practice. I had recently bought one of the very first word processers (Panasonic 1,000) and used it after every class to write the specific style assigned. It was about the middle of the semester when my teacher pulled me aside after class to talk. She told me that she loved my writing and that her husband and she would fight over who got to read my papers first. It was like an educational infusion of confidence, which I so desperately needed. This is where the story begins. It was the last day of class and our class was given an “in class” writing assignment. I handwrote my paper. As we were exiting the room she stopped me and read my paper. Her face curled in anger as she read. After several minutes of reading she accused me of plagiarism. She admonished me for lying to her and breaking the code of conduct for the school. She demanded to know who wrote my papers. With tears in my eyes I explained that I did. I told her that I needed a computer to write. She marched me to her office where I plopped down in front of her computer. Three hours later I gave her my paper. This time she started to cry. She apologized profusely and begged my forgiveness. It was in that moment that I realized that technology had opened a new door for me - higher education.
I have been a special education teacher for 17 years and have loved every minute in the profession. For my students, I try to open the doors that were opened for me. Technology has changed so much since the first days of typewriters with a tiny screen affixed to the machine, but the ideas have not. Students need the support that technology can provide so that their ideas can come through. The profile of an SLD student is a student that often has a higher IQ than their nondisabled peers but there is some gap in their functioning. Technology can bridge that gap. I have sent many a kid to college that thought they were dumb before we met. This is my greatest gift to the world; my students success.
Demian LaPointe is the 2012 Co-Department Chair of Special Education for Deerfield High School. He lives in the Chicagoland area with his wife of 12 years and their two children.
Carrie, CIW’s Executive Producer, had a great opportunity to be at Mucca Pazza’s Sneak Peak Release Party at Hideout for their new record SAFETY FIFTH.
She says: “It was great show…their new album will move you in all the right ways…brassy spaz-outs, guitar freak-outs, obscure drum rudiments, and absurd cheers…all the fantastic brilliance that is Mucca Pazza.”
Anyone else as in love with Mucca Pazza as Carrie?
2011 Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow, Jeff Nelson, is on the fast track to success as a young social entrepreneur. But, his story started way back 2007 as a corps member for Teach for America. (Read more about Jeff here!)
With only 3 days left to apply for the 2012 fellowship program, take some advice from Jeff as he shares his initial challenges and lessons learned as a young social entrepreneur.
How did you start your project? What were the first steps to turn your idea into action? What were the biggest initial challenges? What lessons did you learn?
As a TFA corps member in Chicago, my sixth graders made tremendous progress academically and socially. However, statistics predicted that only two of my 32 students would graduate from college. Knowing that my students deserved better, and that we were failing to meet students’ needs in classrooms across the country, I joined US Empowered in 2007. Together with help from key supporters, the co-founders grew US Empowered from scratch, motivated by the idea that a teacher-led movement could change these statistics in Chicago and beyond.
We leveraged this unique opportunity and convergence of resources to build a model that inspires teachers to invest long-term in challenging schools; convinces families that college is an option; inspires school leaders to operate with optimism when resources are limited; and moves supporters to get involved despite troubling statistics. Philanthropists, business leaders, district officials and community partners are desperate for concrete solutions and meaningful ways to change their communities. Our incredible progress to date and the sense of possibility that guides our work convince me that US Empowered is that solution.
More specifically, our first five years of operations were focused on honing the program model. We developed and tested pilots, defined and refined our theory of change based on our experiences on the ground in schools, and raised seed funds. Our biggest initial challenges during this early period were 1) proving that a teacher-led model was a viable path to transformational outcomes, and 2) testing pilots while growing and at an exponential rate, trying to meet demand.
Our biggest lessons during this time were learning how to fail faster, as gracefully as possible. We are a small team and learned how to best work efficiently, be flexible, cultivate allies, and rely on solid data for all decisions, even preliminary data.
There is one particular story about learning that fits here: In 2009, the US Empowered executive team and I began to identify concerning data trends in our after-school model. Enthusiasm for and commitment to the program remained high according to surveys, but student gains were unremarkable and teacher retention began to slip. I led my team through an important reflection process during which we carefully analyzed our data and identified the root cause of the concerning trend. We realized that we needed to transition our model into a credit-bearing, daily in-school course for all US Empowered students.
Many stakeholders voiced doubts, and initially our board of directors was wary of this change. But we saw an opportunity to increase student outcomes, cut costs significantly and retain more teachers by shifting our delivery model. We made the difficult decision to implement an in-school model, and the choice has paid dividends. As we continue to hone our model and build the necessary infrastructure to grow and scale our movement, we are constantly evaluating every aspect of US Empowered with a scrupulous eye on data. Careful reflection and disciplined evaluation are the heart of US Empowered, and play an especially valuable role when faced with challenging decisions and circumstances.
You can apply for the 2012 BHSI Fellowship until June 13th! Click here to apply!
Jeff Nelson has led US Empowered since March 2007, guiding vast programmatic expansion and strategy planning efforts.
A new announcement from our friend, Cy Khormaee!
The proliferation of technology from individual consumers to the most venerable of public institutions has released a massive amount of data. Much of this data is available only at the granular level – making it easy for anyone to get lost in a flood of individual facts. The next wave of technology is destined to create better systems to automatically assemble these pieces into useful and consumable information.
At CIMLS.com we are in the commercial real estate field. Traditionally, this business has been one based on personal contacts and intuition. This is due in large part to the difficulty of gathering good data. Over the last decade the amount of relevant data available to this industry has exploded.
This has allowed us to integrate data from sources ranging from foursquare to the federal government and boil it down into a comprehensive property report made available to investors by our state of the art local search engine.
In addition to exposing hard to reach data, such as municipal records, we have also blended other data types to create synthetic sources –such as our Buzz feature. This application aggregates social media check-in data (i.e. Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp, and Facebook) to score a physical location score. This can be highly relevant for retail locations that seek to find the hot locations in a city. No longer is counting foot traffic enough – you need to count digital traffic as well.
Our goal is to make the process of commercial research as easy and transparent as trading stocks. This will bring more investors into the asset class and help the industry as a whole make better data- driven deals.
CIMLS.com is an open commercial real estate research service – providing access to the leading database of commercial properties for sale and for lease, comparable transactions, and property records. To date, CIMLS.com has over 280,000 members and counting for our database of over $300 Billion in commercial real estate properties listings and $600 Billion in property records. Nearly every top firm has a CIMLS.com membership including Sperry Van Ness, Century 21 Commercial, CB Richard Ellis, Coldwell Banker Commercial, Cushman & Wakefield, Grubb & Ellis, Marcus and Millichap, and NAI Global.
Cy Khormaee is a 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup award-winner for creating an innovative point-of-care tool to diagnose malaria on smart phones, LifeLens.