Digital Excellence Comes to Southwest Side of Chicago

Youth from the Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, and Englewood communities pose for a photo in front of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation’s (GADC) main office with Norma Sanders (left), Carlos Nelson (2nd from right) and Dwayne Johnson (far right).

Ernest Sanders

The Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC) in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago (LISC/Chicago), the City of Chicago’s Department of Innovative & Technology (DoIT), the State of IllinoisKidTek, NFP and the Southwest Smart Communities Partners (SSCP) led a summer early action project with 15 youth from the Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, and Englewood communities.

Within this initiative, youth collected content and used print and digital media mediums for the creation of a new neighborhood community web portal to support the digital excellence demonstration communities in these three communities.

The new SSCP web portal will disseminate information about the demonstration communities and encourage residents, businesses, churches, community technology centers, health care providers, government leaders and community based organization to promote their activities, products and services generating increased interest in each respective community and across the three communities.

Norma Sanders, SSCP project manager along with consultant, Dwayne Johnson worked with these youth to produce various forms of content. Under their leadership, Sanders and Johnson recruited youth from these communities to participate in a 6 week academic print and digital media curriculum.

As part of the curriculum, the youth interviewed small businesses, elected officials, civic and community leaders, healthcare and housing professionals, and partnering community development agencies.

GADC's NCP program manager, Ernest Sanders believes this summer project has significance when considering a young person's quality of life. He offered the following remarks:

"There is a large gap and negative perception of how stories in our community are being reported, especially among our youth. We believe this program will be successful because our youth are actively involved in their quality of life. They become citizens who make better and informed choices regarding matters of importance to them. Ultimately they become more inclined to use the new media environment to communicate and share information pertinent to their immediate and larger surroundings."

They learned and used Microsoft Office products as MS Word, PowerPoint, Publisher and digital cameras to collect and capture various forms of content published in newsletters. The featured content of these newsletters included the following:

Students also had personalized tours at DePaul University and WEBZ Radio, where they witnessed live radio shows and had an opportunity to read for at chance at a recorded radio advertisement.

The Chicago Tribune took interest in this summer project and highlighted the program's intent to boost the student's digital fluency to bridge the gap between youth, parents, and grandparents. Click here to read the story. 

At the end of this summer program, the youth completed a survey indicating a desire for an extended program involving post production of their content on TV and Radio. Stay tuned as the SSCP continue digitally and socially link (DSL) their communities.

For more information about this project and those forthcoming in Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn and Englewood, please contact Norma Sanders at (773) 483-3696.