PLATINUM2024

i.c.stars

We Find Talent. We Train Talent. We Put Talent to Work.

aka i.c.stars, i.c.stars - Chicago LLC, i.c.stars - Milwaukee, LLC, i.c.stars - Kansas City LLC   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.icstars.org

Mission

Inner-City Computer Stars is an educational and workforce development organization offering inner-city young adults a solid foundation of technical skill and leadership training. We support and measure career readiness, teaching the competencies needed to succeed in the workplace. We help cohorts connect to internships and job opportunities. As we train a new generation of technology professionals, we increase diversity in the tech space and bring opportunity to disadvantaged neighborhoods. We help end the cycle of marginal jobs and generational poverty while cultivating leaders who can drive change in their communities.

Ruling year info

1999

President & Co-Founder

Sandee Kastrul

Main address

750 N Orleans Suite 500

Chicago, IL 60654-0507 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

36-4253411

NTEE code info

Employment Training (J22)

Human Service Organizations (P20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2023, 2022 and 2021.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

According to UIC’s Great Cities Institute, in Chicago 59% of black young adults (ages 20-24) are out of work. The end of industrialization produced a dramatic departure of jobs from large sections of the city along with the rise in chronic and concentrated joblessness. Additionally, according to the 2019 Strada Institute for the Future of Work’s On-ramps to Good Jobs report, “our current education and training system is lagging and failing too many unemployed and underemployed Americans.” At the same time, tech is the fastest-growing sector. i.c.stars bridges employers with tech jobs to fill with underrepresented and underserved adults who need opportunity. Through its emphasis on technical mastery, soft skills, network building, and market-facing curriculum, i.c.stars has been recognized as an on-ramp to technology jobs. Not only is there continued job growth in this industry, but IT has been recognized by Urban Labs as a particular area of interest for disconnected young people.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Business, Leadership & Technology Job Skills Training

i.c.stars was established to create economic opportunity for underserved communities by bridging disconnected young adults with the high growth tech sector. Participants learn by doing; they build web based applications to solve client challenges - with coding, business, and leadership instruction provided along the way. They also gain the professional network needed to jumpstart their careers.


i.c.stars graduates become technologists who earn living wages (300% more than before) working as application developers or business analysts. They create nonprofits and advocate for change, putting into action i.c.stars’ definition of leadership: making opportunities for others.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Adults
Immigrants and migrants
Ethnic and racial groups
Unemployed people

Through quarterly industry events and employer convenings, i.c.stars works to change employer perceptions and practices around nontraditional talent. Each year, i.c.stars engages hundreds of technology executives around themes including workforce diversity, cyber security, talent retention and recruitment, and innovation.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of program graduates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Young adults, Economically disadvantaged people, Unemployed people, People of African descent, People of Latin American descent

Related Program

Business, Leadership & Technology Job Skills Training

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

i.c.stars' offers three 4-month training cohorts in each of our program locations. Each cohort comprises of 20 participants in Chicago, Milwaukee, and starting in the fall of 2023, Kansas City.

Number of adult learners enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People of African descent, Young adults, Economically disadvantaged people, People of Latin American descent, Unemployed people

Related Program

Business, Leadership & Technology Job Skills Training

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The goal for enrollment for each cohort is 20 with 400-600 individuals applying for each cohort. Candidates experience 12 hours of interviews and assessments prior to acceptance.

Number of clients placed in internships

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People of African descent, People of Latin American descent, Unemployed people, Economically disadvantaged people, Young adults

Related Program

Business, Leadership & Technology Job Skills Training

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our goal is to place 85% of graduates within 6 months of graduation. Thus 2023 remains low as we are not at the full 6-month mark since the last round of graduations.

Number of participants who gain employment

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Young adults, Unemployed people, Economically disadvantaged people, People of African descent, People of Latin American descent

Related Program

Business, Leadership & Technology Job Skills Training

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

While some graduates are initially placed into internships and apprenticeships, over 90% convert to full-time employment within six months.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Too often, talented students graduate from high school and find few options beyond dead-end, minimum wage jobs. Schools had not prepared them for the growing number of tech related careers. Life had not prepared them to see themselves as able to succeed in the corporate world or ready to take a seat at that table. They are invisible to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and lack the network that mentors and applauds new business leaders.

Talented youth from inner-city neighborhoods want good jobs that lead to high growth careers, empowerment, and connection to a like-minded network. Companies want and need diversity and high performers in their workforce. At the same time, a growing number of high-paying careers require the use of sophisticated software and for candidates to have programming and advanced technology skills. i.c.stars is the bridge that links talented, underserved applicants to skills training, a diverse corporate network, and high growth jobs.

i.c.stars identifies non-traditional talent, trains them for higher paying, technology-based jobs, mentors them for success in the corporate world, and connects them to high-paying careers and a network of successful entrepreneurs in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas.

Participants learn by doing; they build web-based applications to solve client challenges and gain the professional network needed to jumpstart their careers. We also work to change employer perceptions and practices around inner-city and nontraditional talent-- literally changing the face of corporate tech talent. Employer partners advocate for us and help attract new partners into our project-based skill development program. This matters because it brings employers into new communities and changes the way they recruit.

Goals Include:
To deliver a project-based model that will prepare young adults, through training and networking, for technology, business careers & entrepreneurship:
*Increase the number of young adults who have access to tech job skills
*Increase number of young adults with skills and social capital for tech jobs with growth potential
To place participants in positions that are the first steps toward higher level positions in the industry, reducing the unemployment rate in underserved communities:
*Increase in number of underserved young adults working in tech & business
*Increase in participant earnings by 300% (from $10,000 before the program to $44,000 at 12 months post graduation)
To cultivate leaders who drive change in their communities:
*Increase in the number of community leaders
*Increase the number of employers hiring i.c.stars graduates as a result of exposure to i.c.stars’ talent, employer partners and project sponsor segment

i.c.stars participants are young adults - the majority between 1830 and over 95% are people of color, 35% are women, 60% have children, at least 48% receive Federal Benefits, approximately 15% have experienced homelessness, and 16% had a felony. Additionally, all of the young adults i.c.stars serves are from low-income communities, and 100% are unemployed or extremely underemployed.

Each participant experiences twelve hours of assessments from an initial candidate pool of 400-600 before selection into the program. The entire program spans two years beginning with a four-month training program where a corporate partner provides participants an RFP that requires a web-based solution. i.c.stars experiential approach incorporates business (i.e., budget and project management), leadership (i.e., public speaking and Agile and Scrum methodologies), and technical skills (HTML, CSS, JQuery, JavaScript, Python, and SQL - and methodologies like agile and scrum). Participants who complete the 1000 hours and 300 learning outcomes commence to residency.

Residency covers 20 months with staff providing additional professional development workshops, networking opportunities and case management. During the program, participants receive a stipend, a laptop, and additional support to element barriers to their success.

i.c.stars is stands out from other workforce development programs because of our cohort-based experiential learning model and because employers sponsor our training that keeps technology market-facing, fluid, and cutting edge. i.c.stars uses responsive pedagogy, not teaching participants how to answer questions, but how to write them. i.c.stars daily High Tea speaker series brings a senior executive to the learning studio to share their career journey, building social capital for program participants and a talent pipeline for guest speakers.

Additionally, i.c.stars incorporates social justice, civics and leadership components resulting in alumni volunteering and giving to charities at rates of 80 - 90% and roughly 10% serving on nonprofit boards.

For every four-month training cohort, our goal is to graduate 80%, place 85% within 6 months with program graduates seeing an increase is approximately 200-250% in their wages within 12 months and roughly 80% converting to full-time positions.

For over 25 years, i.c.stars success is evident in our ability to provide a market-facing business, leadership, technology (or BLT) training program, quarterly industry networking events, wraparound support, and guidance to connect motivated, underserved young adults with high growth technology careers.

i.c.stars has expanded its operation to Milwaukee in 2018 and Kansas City in 2023 by duplicating our cohort model in each location. Drivers for this expansion are employer demand, the need for a robust IT ecosystem and alternative pathways for education. Key corporate partners are Microsoft, Accenture, Discover, US Foods, United Airlines, Deloitte, Northwestern Mutual, Kohls, and Salesforce among others. What sets i.c.stars apart is not just the outcomes, however, but the longer term impact, which includes pursuit of higher education, homeownership, and entrepreneurship.

i.c.stars is led by award-winning Black social entrepreneur Sandee Kastrul, who co-founded the organization. Before founding i.c.stars, Sandee designed interactive programs for GED students at Jobs for Youth, implemented a professional development program with Harold Washington College Career Center, and developed experiential learning modules for over 70 schools.

Sandee is supported by an executive leadership team that includes a Chief Learning and Program, Chief Operating, Chief Revenue and Chief Technical Officers, and Executive Directors in Chicago, Kansas City, and Milwaukee with a national board and city advisory boards. Board expertise is wide-ranging and targeted to the needs of i.c.stars; it includes senior level executives from healthcare, technology and Artificial Intelligence, financial services, management consulting, and legal.

i.c.stars works with community-based organizations (CBOs) for recruitment, provide introductory technical skills training through our Teacher's Bureau, and invites CBOs to quarterly events, hack-a-thons, and additional events to identify challenges and barriers for potential candidates.

For 25 years, our average initial placement rate has been 83%, graduates experience a 200-250% earnings increase, and employment retention is 80% at one year following graduating. What sets i.c.stars apart is not just the outcomes but the longer term impact, which includes pursuit of higher education (38% of recent graduates obtained a B.A. after i.c.stars), homeownership (70 graduates have become homeowners), and entrepreneurship (63 graduates have started for-profits or nonprofits).

At a systems level, the economic empowerment of i.c.stars ensures that individuals and their families basic needs are met, and a cycle of poverty is broken. Graduates transition from receiving benefits to paying into the system. With i.c.stars, the estimated lifetime earnings of one graduate grows from $540,343 to $2,161,370 (based on $10,000 average pre program wage, assuming conservative annual cost of living raises of 2%, and based on average initial post i.c.stars salary of $40,000).

The Strada Institute for the Future of Work report On-ramps to Good Jobs features i.c.stars as a case study of "innovative programs that serve as an engine of upward mobility". What is most innovative about i.c.stars is the agility built into the project based model: employers pay to engage in the training, because they understand the value of a program that incorporates attributes specific to their organization.

A graduate said the following about how the program had changed their self-image: I transformed my view of self. I came in with low self esteem and lower self confidence. I didnt value myself or feel like my opinion mattered. I was in this constant state of comparison to others but I found out I have my own way of seeing things and understanding. I have a different view of things and that makes me special in my own way.

Since our founding in 1999, i.c.stars has launched the technology careers of over 680 underserved young adults and has impacted more than 10,000 employers, helping change perceptions and practices around nontraditional talent. Over our twenty year history, we have developed a repeatable process and an ability to build deep employer relationships and meet a need for employers and the community.

Building on our work in Chicago neighborhoods, i.c.stars opened an office in Milwaukee in 2018, with support from the Dohmen Company, and has graduated nine cohorts of interns. Since completing our feasibility study in Kansas City in 2018, we have been focused on building local partnerships and meeting with potential funders. We are working towards an early 2023 start date for the launch of i.c.stars Kansas City.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Financials

i.c.stars
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

i.c.stars

Board of directors
as of 06/07/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

David Edelstein

William Caraher

von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

Dave Edelstein

Kevin Greer

New Profit

Kevin McFall

Kevin M Gates

Microsoft

Melissa Summers

Accenture

Pat Moroney

Rich Linden

Red Foundry

Sandee Kastrul

i.c.stars

Will Shields

The Will to Succeed Foundation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/15/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data