Photo: Twenty20 / @samanthavaughan

By Allison Matyus

Now is a better time than ever for people to become more involved in civic engagement, which is why GoCivic’s emergence onto Chicago’s tech scene is prime timing for the civic engagement platform. Whether it is finding a nonprofit to get involved with, finding out when a neighborhood town hall is, or network and cultivate resources, GoCivic’s platform provides it all.

GoCivic Chicago is an initiative run by the Chicago Leadership Alliance, an organization made up of young professionals from around the city to work towards a better Chicago and collaborate on city initiatives. For GoCivic, that initiative is simple.

“GoCivic is about creating more accessibility around how people engage in local government and the causes they care about,” said Beth Bond, the Director of Community for GoCivic. “It’s one portal for all of Chicago to go to figure out how to get involved.”

The web-based platform provides engagement with any one of the 20,000 registered nonprofits that are within the city limits of Chicago. Bond said one of the most impactful things GoCivic has contributed is the sharing of resources between these nonprofits.

“What we have loved doing is creating a collaborative resource sharing community,” Bond said. “We can identify who has what needs, what resources are already on the table, and how we can match those two together.”

For example, through GoCivic’s platform, the Chicago-area nonprofit Bernie’s Book Bank, which collects and distributes new and used children’s books, was able to give these much needed books to various literacy non-profits.

Thanks a [10] million to our volunteers, book donors and investors! #BooksForABetterLife

A post shared by Bernie's Book Bank (@berniesbookbank) on

The platform comes at a prime team where civic engagement and involvement is not only needed, but people are interested and want to get involved in some way. GoCivic Board Member, Kaitlin Reimann, said the data driven platform looks at how this engagement is playing out.

“We are seeing folks interested in women’s rights, folks interested in local government, people wanting to get involved in civil rights…and they are all coming to the GoCivic platform to find Chicago organizations,” Reimann said. “The outreach we are seeing tells us that we are onto something.”

It seems a core value of GoCivic’s mission is partnerships: whether that is partnering people with organizations, organizations with other organizations—such as their own sponsors and partners like 1871, Chicago Public Schools, Sprout Social, and more–or, unique partnerships between GoCivic and Chicago entities.

For the upcoming Chicago Ideas Week (Oct. 16-22), GoCivic has partnered to become a main hub for those that participate in CIW sessions and want to continue the involvement after the week-long festival that cultivates creative insights and engaging programs.

 “Chicago Ideas Week has identified three to five sessions where if people state their interest in continuing the work, they will be redirected to the GoCivic platform to see how they can continue to stay involved and engaged,” Reimann said. “We are thrilled to partner with them and are happy that our platform can provide something new and help them track and monitor activity.”

The multi-faceted tech platform is doing a lot of things in Chicago, but it all comes down to involvement and what can happen when civilians are more involved with their passions and their communities.

“It’s amazing to see people amped up about being involved on a civic level in their own communities and to really understand what is happening and why,” Bond said. “There’s no time like the present to become involved.”