by Karis Hustad

Chicago-based nonprofit tech hub Blue1647, which focuses on underserved communities, has trained more than 16,000 youth in entrepreneurship, technology and STEM since it first launched in 2013, founder Emile Cambry says.

Now the center for entrepreneurship and technology training is getting its biggest grant to date, one that Cambry believes will triple their impact.

Blue1647 will receive a $500,000 grant from Google’s philanthropic arm The grant, dispersed over two years, will go toward boosting the STEM and computer science offerings that Blue1647 distributes through a variety of programs, including their Code Chicago web development workshops, tech organization Latina Girls Code and Paige & Paxton, which provides an introduction to STEM for kids under age 8.

We’re making it so we’re a town hall for social innovation but also a town hall for youth STEM programming,” said Cambry. “That’s really exciting for us.”

This is the biggest grant that Blue1647 has received to date, Cambry said. Otherwise the nonprofit sustains itself through sponsorships, partnerships, smaller grants, events, co-working fees, and other earned revenue.

Cambry noted that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has long worked with Blue1647 as a partner and event sponsor. But this level of financial support indicates Google recognizes the infrastructure and impact that Blue1647 has built, Cambry said, and the value of training talent in underserved areas of Chicago and cities around the country.

“It’s our chance to focus on programs, impact, and just really do some things we’ve never been able to do before,” he said.

Emile Cambry with Blue1647 participants.

Blue1647 hosts a variety of entrepreneurship and tech programs, including: Code Chicago, a series of development workshops; 21st Century Youth Project, tech and entrepreneurship training for teenagers; 1919, a women in tech and entrepreneurship accelerator; CivicBLUE1647, a civic tech and data initiative; The Re-Connect Program, which trains individuals in IT and web development skills; an internship accelerator for high school students; Latina Girls Code, an organization for Latina girls ages 7 to 17 with an interest in tech; coding and Minecraft camps for kids; and an ongoing hackathon series.

Cambry also said that Blue1647 is announcing a strategic partnership with rapidly-growing predictive analytics startup Uptake to boost workforce development and training around data science.

The nonprofit tech hub also recently launched a crowdfunding platform, BlueFUND, and operates in additional centers throughout the country.

This news also coincides with Blue1647 moving to Blue Lacuna, a four-level 250,000 square-foot space within Lacuna Artist Lofts, which will feature more events space, additional classrooms, and expanded coworking. It provides the place for training, employment and building the community that Cambry said he’s been working toward since he launched Blue1647.

“We want to be the place where people get started,” Cambry said.


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