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Event Will Celebrate the 210,000 Chicago Youth Who Engaged in Learning Opportunities

Through Chicago Summer of Learning, Earning 100,000 Badges


(August 15, 2013) CHICAGO— After a summer spent designing new fashions, using forensics to solve an urban mystery, learning about nature, recording music and more, young learners participating in the Mayor’s Chicago Summer of Learning (CSOL) will display their achievements at the Chicago Summer of Learning Showcase this Friday, August 16 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI).

The event celebrates the first year of the Chicago Summer of Learning initiative, the first coordinated approach of its kind to provide youth in every neighborhood access high-quality programs. More than 210,000 young people participated in learning opportunities provided by more than 100 organizations this summer. 

In a unique public-private partnership, the City teamed up with the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla to become the first to pilot a citywide digital badge system that acknowledges students’ achievements.  Nearly 100,000 badges have been earned by this summer’s participants in both on-site and online activities.

A variety of the work done and created this summer will be shared during the Showcase in both a Gallery and at a performance of original works to be held at 4:00 p.m. 

But the event is not only for those who participated over the summer. Any and all who attend the day’s event can participate in a variety of hands-on activities in the 1:00-4:00 p.m. Maker Party. All young people who attend can participate in activities, which include:


  • Creating a drawing, painting or sculpture using recycled materials, found objects and non-traditional art materials;
  • Getting a crash course in on-camera interviewing and  create  a short video of their own combining the interview with clips from an on-line video and film library;
  • Creating 3-D models of jewelry, miniature cityscapes, or stylish glasses frames using CAD software and  3-D printers;
  • Recording youth opinions and environmental pledges to their communities using an online application and video camera.
  • Creating 2-D designs to be physically rendered using a vinyl and laser cutter.

Young people who complete three activities in the Gallery and Maker Party spaces will gain entry into the museum’s exhibits and be entered into a raffle to win a variety of prizes including movie tickets,  sports events, Chicago theater shows, and iPad Minis.

“The Summer Showcase is our day to celebrate the summer-long learning and hard work of Chicago’s youth for all of Chicago to see,” said Nichole Pinkard, who leads the Digital Youth Network at DePaul University. “We also hope that the day’s events will inspire those who have not yet participated to sign up for one of the many fall and winter programs we’ll offer, as well as think ahead to what they will want to do next summer.”

More than 100 organizations offered learning opportunities to Chicago’s young people, from City and County departments and sister agencies, large institutions such as Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Libraries, Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, After School Matters, Chicago Housing Authority, City Colleges of Chicago, and Cook County Forest Preserve. Colleges and universities participated too, including DePaul University, as well as community-based organizations, cultural institutions and museums, such as the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Veterans Museum.

Open badges are a new type of credential gaining popularity across the nation, which serve as online representations of knowledge and skills earned in a wide array of learning environments, traditional and non-traditional. The Chicago Summer of Learning adapted the system for youth as a better way for learners to communicate their new skills and competencies back to schools and future employers.


About the MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. More information is at http://www.macfound.org/learning.


About Mozilla

Mozilla (mozilla.org) has been a pioneer and advocate for the Web for more than a decade. We create and promote open standards that enable innovation and advance the Web as a platform for all. Today, hundreds of millions of people worldwide use Mozilla Firefox to discover experience and connect to the Web on computers, tablets and mobile phones. Mozilla's Open Badges Infrastructure is a technical standard that makes it possible for learners everywhere to display their skills, interests and credentials. For more information please visit: https://www.openbadges.org