CHI Hacks – The Windy City’s Premier High School Hackathon

Saturday, May 27th – Sunsday, May 28th, 2017

Chicago Hacks is the premier high school hackathon that looks to educate newer students on computer science while also helping the more advanced programmers excel. We look to encourage any students to come and grow their love for programming and create awesome projects. We strive to spread and educate students on computer science in the midwest region.

Who can participate?

Any high school student! Including Class of 2017 graduates who may have graduated prior to the event date.

I don’t know how to code! Should I still come?

Yes!!! Our hackathon is the perfect place to learn about programming with all our different workshops we will offer at the event.

What can I create?

Anything you want! However, we hope that there are projects that create an impact or cause social change. Also, your project must be entirely made during the hackathon, but you may come to the hackathon with an idea already in mind.

For additional FAQs and Registration Info, visit

Future Leaders of Chicago (FloChicago)


floChicago is a leadership development program founded by a group of educators, principals, professionals, and civic leaders in partnership with the University of Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust. floChicago will select approximately 30 high school leaders from the Chicago area to participate in 1) a week-long leadership immersion residential program on campus at The University of Chicago from August 6 through August 12, 2017, and 2) meetings and retreats throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Students will have an opportunity to engage with some of Chicago’s most prominent leaders and participate in activities centered around civic engagement, leadership development, college preparation, and career exposure. The program is offered at no cost to participants.

For more information, please visit The Application Page ( contains the application as well as additional information about candidate criteria and frequently asked questions.

Feel free to contact if you have any questions, and feel free to forward this post widely to help spread the word.

Chicago Maker Challenge

Key Dates

  • December 20, 2015: Registration opens
  • February 25, 2016: Chicago Maker Challenge Launch Party at Motorola Mobility
  • March 1, 2016: Registration Ends
  • March 7, 2016: Last day for kit pickup
  • May 6, 2016: All project videos must be sent to:
    • Last day to send in completed Parental Consent Form to
  • May 13, 2016: Semi-finalists, finalists & additional winners are notified
    • All participants are welcome to attend the Showcase unless otherwise notified. However, only finalists, semi-finalists and additional winners are able to exhibit at the Showcase.
  • May 26, 2016: Chicago Maker Challenge Showcase at Motorola Mobility from 3:30 – 7:00 p.m.
    • 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1800

The University of Chicago Crime Lab – Mobile Development Opportunity

Who are they?

The University of Chicago Crime Lab seeks to improve our understanding of how to reduce crime and violence by helping government agencies and non-profit organizations rigorously evaluate promising policies and interventions to make them as informative as possible. Their goal is to assemble a portfolio of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to generate new evidence about what works, for whom, and why, and to conduct benefit-cost analyses of different interventions to enable policymakers to prioritize resources for the combination of strategies that achieve the greatest social good per dollar spent. Crime Lab projects evaluate ways to help make the criminal justice system more effective and fair, and try to identify tools from social policy, education, and behavioral economics to prevent crime from happening in the first place and to improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged populations. In addition to carrying out RCTs and other research on crime and violence, the University of Crime Lab since its inception has also provided extensive pro bono technical assistance to government agencies in Chicago looking for rigorous data analysis and research support. The nature of our work as partners with city agencies requires adjusting to the pace of policymakers’ work. This way of working is atypical for most research organizations, but gives them an unprecedented opportunity to partner with policymakers to help them maximize the positive impact of policies and programs that can improve lives. For more information about the University of Chicago Crime Lab, see attached documents or go to

The Project

Chicago youth have many opportunities to participate in programs designed to reduce the risks posed to them, yet many of these programs face difficulties in recruiting to capacity. There could be many reasons why these programs are not well attended. Even if at-risk youth are aware that social programs exist, such options might not come to mind when figuring out what to do in their free time. If particular youth tend to spend their free time in unstructured, unsafe activities, these will probably be what they end up doing, by force of habit. Unless nudged to do otherwise, they will default into what they usually do, which in the particular context of at-risk youth in Chicago might often be unsafe activities. We offer a potential solution to address this challenge by presenting relevant information, on existing programs and productive activities (sports, music, etc.), to youth in an accessible and compelling way, through a mobile app that leverages insights from behavioral economics, behavioral science, and psychology to act on the potentially life- changing dangerous activities Chicago youth tend to default into. We are looking to turn our web based prototype into iOS and Android apps to boost usage from our target population. We are looking to have an end product by mid-February 2016. Qualifications • iOS development • Android development • User Interface If interested send resume and cover letter to acastiglione.

See attached PDFs describing the opportunities for student internship / involvement.


Dangerous Defaults.pdf

Chicago Star Scholarship at City Colleges of Chicago

Starting with City Colleges’ Fall 2015 semester, students who graduate from CPS in Spring 2015 or after with a 3.0 GPA who test completion-ready in math and English will be able to pursue an associate degree at City Colleges of Chicago at no cost – free tuition, fees, and books.

In order to receive the Star Scholarship, students must apply for financial aid so that any financial aid dollars can be applied first as part of the waiver. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be found here. Undocumented students should fill out this form​​​ instead.

All details can be found at


Open to the public…


Chicago, Illinois – In association with Chicago Artists Month, on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014, Jack C. Newell and Seth Unger will debut to the public plans for their interactive public art light structure, The Wabash Lights. This interactive and informational reception will be held at the downtown office of Gensler Chicago. The event is open to the public.

The Wabash Lights is a site­ specific lighting concept planned for the Wabash stretch of elevated train tracks (L) between Madison and Adams. The creators envision this work of public art will create a unique district in the heart of Chicago using the CTA’s L tracks as a canvas for a dynamic light experience.

Putting the Public in Public Art

The Wabash Lights’ LED tubes will be customizable in color, duration, brightness, and cadence. Typical light installations are created by a singular, commissioned light artist and pre­-programmed to run a set sequence. The Wabash Lights website will seek submissions from citizens of Chicago and the world to program snapshots, sequences, and interactivity into the canvas of light.

Wabash Lights designers Jack C. Newell and Seth Unger will lead a progressive discussion to explain the concept, logistics, and engage the audience in an interactive discussion about this transformative, inclusive, and first­ of ­it’s­ kind piece of public art. Food and drink will be served.

RSVP “yes” at

Wednesday, Oct 29 2014

6:30pm – 8pm

11 E. Madison Suite 300 Chicago, IL 60602

Jack & Seth

Chicago PD Believes It Can See The Future, Starts Warning Citizens About Crimes They Might Commit

Article Link

We’ve talked a lot over the years about the attempts to get out “ahead of crime” by using computer programs and algorithms to try and predict who might commit a crime. Predictive computing can then either target specific areas or specific people that might be in need of some extra law enforcement attention. Except as we’ve noted repeatedly, these programs are only as valuable as the data they use. Garbage in, garbage out, but in this case you’ve got a human being on the other end of the equation whose life can be dramatically impacted by law enforcement holding what they believe is “proof” that you’ll soon be up to no good.

With that in mind there’s growing concerns about efforts in Chicago to use predictive analytical systems to generate a “heat list” — or a list of 400 or so individuals most likely to be involved in violent crime. The Chicago efforts are based on a Yale sociologist’s studies and use an algorithm created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology. People who find themselves on the list get personal visits from law enforcement warning them that they better be nice. The result is a collision between law enforcement that believes in the righteousness of these efforts and those who worry that they could, as an EFF rep states, create “an environment where police can show up at anyone’s door at any time for any reason.”

Law enforcement and the code creators, as you’d expect, argue that it’s only the bad guys that need to worry about a system like this:

“A press liaison for the NIJ explains in an email: “These are persons who the model has determined are those most likely to be involved in a shooting or homicide, with probabilities that are hundreds of times that of an ordinary citizen.” Commander Steven Caluris, who also works on the CPD’s predictive policing program, put it a different way. “If you end up on that list, there’s a reason you’re there.”

Unless law enforcement makes a mistake, your data is wrong (which it often will be), or we decide to expand the program significantly, right? Another concern bubbling up in Chicago is that the programs are effectively using racial profiling to target already-troubled areas where crime naturally would be greater due to poverty, without anybody bothering to perform a deeper analysis of why those areas might be having problems (aka targeting symptoms, not disease):

“…how are we deciding who gets on the list and who decides who gets on the list?” (EFF staff attorney Hanni) Fakhoury asks…”Are people ending up on this list simply because they live in a crappy part of town and know people who have been troublemakers? We are living in a time when information is easily shareable and easily accessible,” Fakhoury says. “So, let’s say we know that someone is connected to another person who was arrested. Or, let’s say we know that someone’s been arrested in the past. Is it fair to take advantage of that information? Are we just perpetuating the problem?” He continues: “How many people of color are on this heat list? Is the list all black kids? Is this list all kids from Chicago’s South Side? If so, are we just closing ourselves off to this small subset of people?”

Chicago PD denies that there’s any “racial, neighborhood, or other such information” being used in their heat list calculations, but a FOIA request to actually confirm that was denied, under the pretense that releasing such information could “endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel or any other person.” So yeah, there’s great transparency at work here as well.

Predictive computing is excellent for a good many things, from improving traffic congestion to designing sewer networks, but calculating the future movements of highly complicated and emotional human beings is a bridge too far. It’s not particularly difficult to imagine a future where law enforcement (not always known for nuanced thinking or honest crime stat record keeping) starts using their belief in the infallibility of mathematics as the underpinnings for bad behavior, with the horrible experiences of the falsely accused dismissed as anecdotal experiences (“well shucks, most of the time the system is right, so its existence is justified”). It might just be time for a re-watch of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil with an eye on reminding ourselves what a simple clerical error can do to the Archibald Buttles of the world.