The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2011, August 20-21

Instituto del Progreso Latino

Each year, Instituto del Progreso Latino engages 14,000 participants and families in its five strategic locations in predominantly Latino communities throughout Chicago: Pilsen, Little Village, and Back of the Yards. The objectives of the programs and services at Instituto are to work with families towards increasing their capacity for self-sufficiency, to work with industry partners to meet labor shortage demands, and to create equitable access to education and skills training.

Since 2003, Instituto has operated from a strategic vision of becoming a recognized leader reaching every Latino family in the Chicago metropolitan area where participants are proactive agents of change in their communities and have secure economic futures in an environment that recognizes and values everybody’s uniqueness and cultivates their growth. To achieve this vision, Instituto’s programs reflect a real understanding of the community it serves. By concurrently running the largest Latina/o serving workforce and citizenship program in the State of Illinois, along with an internationally recognized adult educational department and a national model of replication for youth development, Instituto is uniquely positioned to meet the economic and educational needs of the growing Latino community.

In particular, Instituto’s experience in the provision of comprehensive career pathway programs has demonstrated that as wages are increased, opportunities to save, invest, and build an asset base will arise, all of which sustain a families exit from poverty. Further Innovations in such spaces have been nationally awarded and recognized, including the 2010 Excelencia in Education Award, 2009 NCLR Affiliate of the Year Award, an honor bestowed on one of its 300 affiliates, the 2008 Strengthening Hispanic Families Award presented by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the 2008 Recognition for Excellence awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, and a 2011 White House Champion of Change in Service and Social Innovation.

What new functionality we are looking for

We at Instituto would like for our website to serve as our main online portal and to help foster an online community. Through the site that we envision, current and potential program participants, volunteers, and collaborators would be able to learn about what we do and stay up-to-date with the happenings at Instituto in one centralized online location that connects to other online spaces in which we are active. They would also be able to interact with Instituto and with one another.

Specifically, we would like the news section of our website to function like a blog, in which readers have the option to comment on each post, as well as share via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. In this section, we could also introduce new ongoing features that would bring people back to the website regularly, like a student spotlight, guest bloggers, and video diaries. Regular updates to this section would keep the website fresh and our audience engaged. The events section would also be key and updated regularly, and the events listed would be synced with our social media profiles to take full advantage of our networks.

We can achieve this through a cleaner, more eye-catching design, more user-friendly navigation, and the integration of multimedia and social media. The key is interactivity because we want to keep building our community and to keep that community involved in what we do at Instituto.

How the new functionality will help

A more functional website would help us at Instituto carry out our mission of contributing to the development of Latino immigrants by connecting to more people in our community, to more like-minded organizations, and to more funders to help us continue carrying out our work. The work that we have accomplished over the years has established our presence in the community, and now we would like to establish a presence and build a community online. As the members of our community become increasingly engaged digitally, we want to be able to reach them in the new spaces that they occupy. In these new spaces, we can reach audiences that we haven’t previously reached (for instance, the younger, English language-dominant members of our community). We recently witnessed just how powerful online communities can be when we participated in Chase’s Community Giving contest on Facebook. The level of support we got from our community was overwhelming and inspiring, and we want to continue harnessing that power. Designing a website that functions as an online hub with not only information about our services, but also event listings, special features, and multimedia – all connected to our social networks – would help us keep the momentum going. This would also demonstrate to current and potential funders that we are conscious of the shift of communities into virtual spaces and that we are shifting along with them.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Our Mission

Instituto del Progreso was founded in 1977 with a mission to “contribute to the fullest development of Latino immigrants and their families through education, training and employment that fosters full participation in the changing U.S. society while preserving cultural identity and dignity.” Throughout its 33-year existence, Instituto’s evolution and expansion has been informed by the needs of its program participants. Such needs have helped define Instituto’s character of achievement by offering high quality programs in workforce development, adult education, youth development, youth education and citizenship preparation. More than 43,000 families have walked through Instituto’s doors to learn English, earn their GED or high school diploma, increase their job skills, find employment or become U.S. citizens.