You don’t have to know anything about the philanthropic sector to see that there’s a ton of potential in the tech industry. Now more than ever, tech companies are paving the way for social change and expanding the capacity and reach of nonprofits around the world. This impact can be clearly seen in Chicago, where it seems a new socially minded tech company pops up every day.
And with millions of dollars on the line, tech companies aren’t just using software and apps to solve problems—they’re incorporating giving into their very culture and DNA. Here are two tech companies in Chicago to watch.
Founded in 2001, and staffing about 225 employees, Solstice Mobile builds digital products, like mobile apps, wearables, and connected IoT (Internet of Things) systems. It’s made a couple of those “Top 100” lists put out by Built in Chicago and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. And with a company culture that encourages ongoing professional development, it’s also praised as a “great place to work” and a “cool office.”
On the philanthropy side of things, Solstice Mobile has been pushing for employees to get involved in their communities. The company recently partnered with several local organizations, like Chicago Dance Marathon, the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and i.c. stars, which provides opportunities for inner-city youth in Chicago through the Internet economy.
Although headquartered in Chicago, keep in mind that there are also offices in New York, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Shanghai, and London. Solstice Mobile's recent philanthropic support extends to international organizations as well.
No one enjoys looking on street after street for a parking spot, and the developers of ParkWhiz have a simple goal: to make parking easier than ever before. Based in Chicago, where parking is almost always a nightmare, the company was founded in 2006 and employs about 48 people. The ParkWhiz app lets drivers book guaranteed parking spots before leaving the house, in at least 150 cities.
This company’s local support has largely focused on Envision Unlimited, a local nonprofit that serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, mostly from low-income households. The group assists over 1,200 individuals through an art studio program, a horticulture program, senior services, autism services, job training and placement, foster care and early intervention. To support the arts program, ParkWhiz has commissioned pieces from Envision to exhibit and decorate their space. The tech company’s employees also work with Envision artists to produce new works.
There is still much to be learned about these and other emerging tech companies around the city, and it’s always exciting to see which ones emerge as top donors in specific fields as they grow and become more successful. Built in Chicago is a good resource to learn about what new tech startups are up to around town.