The last time America’s economy fell off a cliff, jobs in computing and mathematics barely took a hit. The industry lost just 1% of its employment in 2009 and fully regained momentum the following year, when jobs in the sector surpassed 2008 levels.
This is why Illinois tech leaders and universities are investing into training for in-demand tech jobs: They’ll never go away.
Introducing Chicago Tech Fellows, a network of programs and support systems from high school to adulthood. Our holistic approach is designed to bring more people of color and women into the city’s vibrant and recession-proof tech economy.
Among the offerings: In high school, fellows will learn an enriching curriculum around computing, computer science, and data science; In college, students will embark on immersive hands-on experiences; and within the workforce, adults will navigate various pathways into the tech-ecosystem through programs like our 1-year software apprenticeship. All along this pipeline, DPI is focused on demystifying what it means to be in tech, and who should be in tech by creating opportunities for communities that have historically been left out.
Stay turned for more information on how to be a part of this program! For more information, please contact Dr. Danielle Clark
Through the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs’ programming and other efforts, DPI will help develop promising and diverse tech talent through a systemic approach that begins in K-12 through to the first job out of college and staying competitive in the workforce through lifelong learning.
Very few, if any, teachers are certified to teach Computer Science in Illinois. We’re working to change that with an endorsement program for existing teachers, targeted professional development, and pushing for a pathway to licensure so new university graduates can teach CS.
Chicago’s tech workforce is only 12% Black or Hispanic. With high school, community college and non-profit partners, we’re building a more systemic approach to support a learner’s journey from high school to a degree in computer or data science and a job in tech.
Building on the successful City Scholars internship program that has connected more than 185 top computer science and computer engineering students with local tech companies, we are dialing up critical experiential learning experiences for more students.
“I had no idea how great the tech industry in Chicago was until we had all of these talks with people in the tech ecosystem. I realized the tech industry aligned with my interests in the environment, and now I’m more interested in exploring the computer science side of civil engineering.”
In December 2020, The Pritzker Foundation announced it is giving $10 million over the next five years to The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) to support and develop promising and more diverse tech talent in Illinois.
The funding will establish the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs at DPI, which will help Illinois workers better adapt to a challenging and quickly changing economy, and help thousands of women and people of color secure high-paying tech jobs.
With this funding support, DPI has named Omowale Casselle to be the inaugural Pritzker Director of Tech Talent Labs. Casselle joins DPI with a deep background in engineering and technology entrepreneurship.By 2029, the goal is for the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs to help 7,000 people annually secure jobs, including more than 3,000 women, Blacks or Hispanics.
The Pritzker Foundation is led by Tom Pritzker, Nick Pritzker, Gigi Pritzker Pucker, and Penny Pritzker.
Recent announcements from the Discovery Partners Institute
In just two years, the City Scholars program has brought 200 of the best computer science and computer engineering students in Urbana-Champaign up to Chicago for a semester of courses and internships at companies.
Big companies like BP, Caterpillar and JPMorgan Chase. And emerging tech companies like Quicket Solutions and Xaptum.