Dear Chicago

Dear Chicago,

Our work with the University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good Program has brought us to you before, and last week it brought us back again. The conference was awesome (blog post to come), but while we visited it only made sense to get to know you better while we were there.

We took the opportunity of this trip to meet with some amazing organizations and city departments who are trying to provide increased economic opportunity to Chicagoans, and you did not disappoint. We wish we had room here to tell you about all the things we learned from each of these groups that operate within your borders. Since we unfortunately do not, we will share some of our highlights from the trip.

Connect with what your communities already have.


Let us start by saying a huge thank you to all of the organizations that met with us:

My Block My Hood My City

Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University

University of Chicago’s Urban Lab’s Poverty Lab

Sunshine Enterprises

Evanston Department of Digital Services

Evanston Department of Community & Economic Development

Evanston 311

The Place Lab and Rebuild Foundation

City of Chicago Department of Neighborhood Economic Development

City of Chicago Chief Small Business Officer



Community Investment Corporation

Housing Choice Partners

Metropolitan Planning Council

Design programs with a defined purpose and great intentionality.


All of you are doing important and inspiring work in your city and our team is so grateful to you for sharing your strategies and wisdom with us. We took away so many important ideas. Below are just a few of our favorites.

Working with youth to give them exposure to new opportunities, careers, places and cultures can have a huge impact on their futures.

Creating a sense of pride in your community is simpler than you might think, and the results are invaluable. Connect with what your communities already have.

A little paint goes a long way.

Equitable and accountable development is important to the success of a city and its residents.

A strong data infrastructure and culture should be integrated into every government service.

Private-public and university-city partnerships make a world of difference to all parties involved.

Departments and organizations work better as a network, not in silos.

We all work better when we work together.

There needs to be a holistic approach to community development, utilizing education and training, building community capital and resources, and providing necessary support and services all at the same time.

Streamlining city services so they are easier and faster to access and use is important in eliminating barriers to business owners and residents alike.

Design programs with a defined purpose and great intentionality.

Creative, place-based solutions can be used to create change in the most difficult issues.


Get excited and ready to make a difference.


We understand that providing opportunity to citizens can be challenging, but we left you, Chicago, feeling energized and excited for the challenges ahead. We learned about great practices and developed ideas that Syracuse could expand upon.  We are entirely grateful for all that you gave us.

Until next time.


Our deepest appreciation,
Syracuse i-team