Work: Case Studies

Magic happens when people come together around a shared purpose and use their passion and talents to make a difference. Also, things get done.

The Chicago Community Trust


The challenge: Take 1,000 ideas from residents about how to make Chicago a better place to live and make six of them actually happen.


Collaboratory ideas were drawn from nearly 1,000 concepts generated during On the Table 2014. An internal selection committee culled ideas to 25, and an external selection committee
and interview process determined the final six groups. The intensive six-month process supported civic volunteers with a slate of pro bono services, including a prototyping lab session facilitated by nationally recognized design and innovation firms IDEO, Gravity Tank, Doblin and Greater Good Studio; five months of intensive coaching support; “pitch” workshops on visual presentation development and oral presentation skills; and pro bono graphic design services.

Teams tested out their ideas on respected mentors and community leaders at the inaugural Community Demo Day on March 11. More than 400 attended the event, which facilitated new partnerships and community connections. Using the advice and relationships developed during the process and at Demo Day, Collaboratory teams developed sustainability plans and new collaborations to support


Not only did this work engage and empower residents in building a better city, it grew new leaders. For example, the young leaders of Generation Green, one of the six selected projects to incubate, were honored by Chicago Scholars as 35 under 35 leaders. The experiment informed the Trust as well, inspiring a key pillar of their next centennial strategy “engaging communities.”