By the late 1990s, the founders of i.c.stars had been working for fifteen years in various workforce development programs. Their experiences led them to develop a technology-based curriculum that combined hard skills and training with a broader perspective on community impact and “bigger than you” sense of accountability for the young adults in their program.
Importantly, their outcomes were five times better than those reported by organizations in the field. Their students were not just more successful at getting and retaining jobs, they were also taking responsibility for lifting others in their communities, helping through various forms of civic engagement to attack the root causes of unemployment. As these students were solving their own problems, they were also reaching out to help others.
Since 1999, i.c.stars has been identifying, training, and jump-starting technology careers for Chicago-area low-income young adults who, although lacking access to education and employment, demonstrate extraordinary potential for success in the business world and for impact in their communities.
Their program is grounded in the conviction that the fundamentals necessary to succeed in technology services are the same as those necessary for community leadership. They believe that when young adults focus their talent on both technology services and community impact, their success in both increases significantly.