The Chicago Lawn Portal is a hyperlocal news site dedicated to telling the stories of the people, places and things in the Chicago Lawn community. The portal began as just one of the many tools designed to help create tech-savvy communities in Chicago Lawn, Auburn Gresham, and Englewood as a part of the Southwest Smart Communities Initiative (SCCI). The mission of SCCI was to bridge the digital divide in each of these neighborhoods with three main goals:
- Connect each community in order to reduce the historical physical, cultural and digital divides between the areas
- Enhance the existing digital systems by working with community members, gatekeepers and technology experts to identify what the most efficient technologies are to serve the community
- Improve access to the Internet by making it more accessible to residents, schools, small businesses and city colleges
SCCI was part of a larger program called Smart Communities, a branch of the City of Chicago’s Digital Excellence Initiative, managed by LISC/Chicago and funded in part through a $7 million federal Broadband Technology Opportunity grant. This funding was intended to enhance access to broadband technology and training, and create opportunities to earn hardware and software for more than 11,000 residents and 360 small businesses and nonprofits, with the goal of overcoming barriers to technological access that unfortunately, exist in many parts of the city.
Since its inception the portal has become a go-to source for news and events within the Chicago Lawn community. The portal encourages residents and business owners alike to become members (for free) and join in on the conversation by posting their own content. Residents can find neighborhood resources, job listings and community events while business owners are encouraged to add themselves to the directory listing and post news of current sales or events happening in their stores.