Skip to Content
Case Study

Celebrating the Past, Cultivating the Future in South Side Chicago

Neighborhood Development Services (NDS)
Chicago, IL

Led in part by two brothers who grew up on Chicago’s South Side, Neighborhood Development Services (NDS) was founded in 2015 to promote cultural education, tourism and mentorship. The nonprofit’s popular tours teach the rich African American history of the South Side area, and its educational programs—including robotics and journalism—provide opportunities for kids to excel.

Wi-Fi for Education and Commerce

NDSJoseph Montgomery says he’s the history buff behind Neighborhood Development Services. His brother Norman is the technology guru. It was Norman’s idea, for example, to offer Robotics and Coding Summer Camps to young kids in the community.

It was also Norman’s idea to distribute Wi-Fi hotspot devices to South Side schools during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Schools were going remote, and there were kids without internet at home,” Joseph explained, “so we distributed Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks to the schools.” NDS partnered with Mobile Citizen because of their affordable pricing on both the Wi-Fi hotspot devices and unlimited high-speed internet service.

NDS uses Mobile Citizen devices to support local small business too. Enterprising South Side residents grow and sell fresh fruits, vegetables and other items in neighborhood gardens along Chicago’s African American Heritage Trail. Produce markets like these are typically cash-only, but that’s tricky now that so few people carry cash. Using Mobile Citizen devices, NDS provides these independent business owners with mobile hotspots so they can use apps like Squarespace to complete their sales.

Mobile Citizen is a project of the philanthropic organization Voqal, providing low-cost mobile internet with unlimited data plans exclusively to nonprofit organizations, schools and social welfare agencies. Championed by a national collaboration of EBS (Educational Broadband Service) licensees, Mobile Citizen’s internet service helps NDS and other nonprofits across the U.S. promote social equity and bridge the digital divide.

South Side Chicago History

Besides the many tactical ways NDS supports its communities, the not-for-profit group is committed to sharing the history of the South Side as well. In fact, Joseph is passionate about it.

“It’s history that isn’t found in any history book,” he explained. For example, during the depression, South Side residents of Bronzeville earned the name “Black Metropolis” because they created their own goods and services. It was during this era that African Americans created one of the most successful insurance companies, the oldest African American newspaper, and one of the largest African American cosmetic and hygiene companies in the world.

Joseph guides school groups and visitors to significant historic South Side sites, including the Pullman Porter Museum, the South Side Community Art Center, the DuSable Museum and the Black Metropolis Historical District.

An important fundraiser for NDS, the popular tours last two hours and cover a ten-block radius.

Between their passion for the community and their technical creativity, it will be exciting to see what ideas the team at NDS comes up with next. Affordable internet from Mobile Citizen helps nonprofits like NDS bridge the gaps and improve equitable access in their communities. It can be used to enhance productivity, power remote learning and support all types of mobile programs. To explore opportunities for your nonprofit, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.