So what are social labs?  Social labs are strategies for addressing complex social challenges. They have three core characteristics:

• THEY ARE SOCIAL. Social labs bring together diverse participants to work in a team that acts collectively.

• THEY ARE EXPERIMENTAL. Social labs are ongoing and sustained efforts that take on an iterative approach.

• THEY ARE SYSTEMIC. The ideas and initiatives developed address the root cause of why things are not working.


How will the Safer Through Unity initiative utilize the social lab approach? Safer Through Unity aspires to be a genuine community-led effort to build opportunity, belonging and safety for Chicago’s children and their families. During the course of the Safer Through Unity social lab (July – October, 2017), participants will work together to develop five ideas for how to provide safer Chicago neighborhoods.  Each idea will be tested through a prototyping cycle.  Prototype ideas will be executed and funded if they meet the following criteria:

• Scale of Impact: Hundreds of children and families must be positively impacted;

• The Focus: Have a focus on children and their families in the named neighborhoods;

• Neighborhood Footprint: Have activities that can be applied to two or more of the named neighborhoods; and

• Increased demand: Demonstrate an increasing demand for the activities within the named neighborhoods.


The full prototype development cycle will consist of three phases: KICK-OFF, STUDIO 1 and STUDIO 2/WRAP-UP.


Participants will meet and set up how the teams will work together, utilizing initial learning journeys in the community to help in identifying prototype ideas.

The groups will reconvene in August to check-in on current learnings, identify necessary adjustments and outline work to be completed before Studio 2 in October.

The groups will reconvene in October to discuss additional learnings that have been identified based on what has been produced with the prototypes – closing out this cycle of the Social Lab