Connect Chicago Innovation Program FAQs

City Tech’s Connect Chicago Innovation Program is seeking collaborative new ideas to increase tech access, skills, and engagement in Chicago. Applications opened on Tuesday, April 24th and can be access at Applications are due on May 16th at 11:59pm.

Each application should come from teams of two or more partnered organizations. In 2018, one of these teams will be awarded (1) professional development support from City Tech to refine, workshop, and develop their proposal and (2) up to $50,000 to support a pilot to test their collaborative idea.

 To learn more about the application process, what we're looking for in applications, what support winning proposals will receive, and the deliverables winning projects will be expected to complete, see this presentation. You can also attend an upcoming Connect Chicago Meetup event at UI Labs on May 3, 2018 from 10am to 12noon to learn more. You can RSVP for that Meetup at this link.

About Connect Chicago: Connect Chicago is a donor advised fund managed by the City Tech Collaborative that seeks to make Chicago the most digitally skilled, connected, and dynamic city in America. Connect Chicago is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, Comcast, Sprint, the Lenovo Foundation, Clarity Partners, and Gogo.

Below are Connect Chicago Innovation Program FAQs. You can expect us to add to this document as we receive more questions! Don’t see the information you’re looking for below? Email

Where can I find the application?

Can our organization submit more than one application?


If selected, can our proposed solution be expanded, edited, or improved?

Yes. In fact, the winning team will go through a workshop with City Tech to further refine your plan, solidify your scope of work, and make an evaluation plan.

What is the City Tech workshop process like?

The City Tech Workshop will be a day-long, interactive meeting at UI Labs. City Tech staff  will work with representatives from the winning applicant team to strengthen their proposal and take it from idea to action. Other public and private organization seeking lend their expertise or resources to your project will also be invited to attend.

Does my proposed solution need to be citywide?

No. Your solution can be targeted to a particular geographic area or a particular group of residents.

I’m not on staff of a nonprofit organization, but I care about these issue and want to participate in an application. How can I?

We’re aware there might be independent local leaders, volunteers, and contractors interested being part of an Innovation Program Application. While you cannot be an official co-applicant, you can volunteer with an applicant team, contract with an applicant team, or be one of the designated representatives of the applicant team in the workshop.

My nonprofit is faith-based. Can I still apply?


Neither my partner organization nor my organization have ever worked in the “digital inclusion” space or been to Connect Chicago events. Can we still apply?


What are you looking for in a strong application?

A strong application will:

Who reviews the applications?

There is a Connect Chicago Innovation Pilot Selection Committee comprised of Connect Chicago Funders, digital inclusion subject matter experts, and local philanthropic leaders.

My organization has some kind of connection to one of the Pilot Selection Committee members. Are we eligible to apply for the Innovation Program?

If you have a connection to one of the Committee members (ex: they are a board member, they are affiliated with your organization in some other informal or formal way), please note this in your application. You are still eligible to apply for the Innovation Program. We will design the review process so that the person you are connected to will not be part of evaluating your proposal. In the event that a team with a connection to the Committee wins support, we will provide more information publicly about how procedural justice was folded into the review process.

We encourage any applicants with questions on this front to email Ecosystem Manager Denise Linn Riedl at

What will winning organizations receive?

The winning applicant team will receive:

What will winning organizations be expected to do in 2018?

The winning applicant team will be expected to complete the following deliverables:

Who supports Connect Chicago?

Connect Chicago is a donor advised fund managed by City Tech. It has been generously supported by:

When will we hear back about the application we turned in?

Applicants should hear back in mid-June whether they were chosen. Applicants can also expect to be contacted in May with follow-up questions or clarifying questions, but this will not be the case for everyone.

I have more questions about the application. Who can I contact?

Please email City Tech’s Ecosystem Development Manager, Denise Linn Riedl, at