Networlding is about connecting with others in the most authentic, positive and meaningful of ways, and leveraging those connections to achieve new and powerful results. In that spirit, I’d like to invite you to learn about and support a truly exceptional nonprofit organization called i.c. stars.
Formally known as Inner City Computer Stars, i.c. stars is the epitome of networlding and one of the best nonprofit organizations I have ever seen.
What I find so impressive about i.c. stars is the organization’s laser focus on helping low-income, inner city young people get better starts in life.
i.c. stars is on a mission to create 1,000 community leaders by the year 2020.
Each year, i.c. stars attracts some 400 applicants who undergo a rigorous interview and screening process. Of these, 10 to 15 stars emerge – i.e., young adults who are smart, ambitious, resilient and optimistic. Many of them have faced and overcome serious adversity. All of them exhibit a profound sense of purpose to better themselves, their families and their communities.
These young people embark upon an intensive two-year practicum. Up first, weeks of in-depth training in technology, business, collaboration and leadership. Then participants complete more than 1,000 hours of team-based projects, finding temporary employment with the help of i.c. stars staff. At the same time, these young stars are expected to enroll in college and graduate within two years.
Year after year, more than 90 percent of i.c. stars alumni embark on new careers with great companies such as Accenture, Allstate, Aon/Hewitt, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, CNA, Exelon, Grainger, Loyola University, Northern Trust, Microsoft, PepsiCo and TD Ameritrade. So, on one level, you can think of i.c. stars as a job training and workforce readiness program.
But i.c. stars goes deeper than that. Year after year, i.c. stars participants embrace the expectation that they give back to, and lead, their communities. They volunteer. They become mentors themselves. And they work hard to exceed expectations in their jobs, thus paving the way for future program participants.
With i.c. stars, everyone wins:
- Young people gain new opportunities to build better futures for themselves;
- Employers gain access to thoroughly trained, highly motivated and previously under-utilized talent; and
- Communities grow both stronger and more unified.
If you are in a position to support i.c. stars, I encourage you to join me in doing so. Tweet about i.c. stars. Share this blog post across your network. Consider contributing your time, talent and treasure. The more we can help programs like i.c. stars grow and thrive, the more we will be “doing well by doing good.” And, at the end of the day, that’s just good business in my book.
picture via Facebook