Chicago, IL – This summer, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation will pilot a STEM Internship Program connecting high school students with local small businesses, providing real-life work experience to students and IT, web and social media assistance to businesses that likely could not afford it otherwise.

This pilot program will benefit 14 clients of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. These businesses lack the budget, staff or space to host a summer intern, but need help with their websites, social media strategies and online marketing programs.

“A small business owner wears a lot of hats,” said Ann Kisting, executive director of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “He or she doesn’t have a dedicated HR person who can figure out the intern’s job description, recruit the right candidate and then oversee the intern’s work.”

Select students from Chicago Public Schools’ Early College STEM Schools who are hired as interns will benefit by gaining real-life IT work experience they can cite on their resumes. The Creating IT Futures Foundation is helping the Chamber Foundation identify those students who possess the skills needed for the businesses’ assignments.

“Workplace development is very relevant and an important place for the Chamber to be,” Kisting said. “Work experience is critical for students. It makes it possible for them to secure positions that represent the next step up in their careers.”

Talent development and retention has become a primary focus of the Chamber Foundation. The Chamber’s 2015 Member Survey results were released last week, and 90 percent of respondents cited “access to talent” as an aspect of Chicagoland that directly contributes to the success of their business. Its recent State of the Middle Market in Illinois study also revealed that 65 percent of mid-market businesses in the state have difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill open positions, while 57 percent believe the local education system contributes to that skills gap.

About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce combines the power of people with our legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. We focus on delivering value for our members, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work. Visit