The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2011, August 20-21

Northwestern University Settlement Association (Northwestern Settlement)

Northwestern University Settlement (Northwestern Settlement) was founded by Northwestern University in 1891, as a part of the "Settlement" movement (Janes Addams is the most well-known person associated with Settlements. The Settlement "house" functions as a safe haven; our staff, volunteers and donors form relationships with our "neighbors" that enable them to change their lives. Northwestern Settlement is a "place-based" response to the myriad, complex needs of our neighbors in West Town, a traditional immigrant community on the near west side, long plagued by poverty, job loss, gentrification and poor schools.

Today, Northwestern Settlement addresses these major communinity issues by focusing its programming on education, social services and the arts. Our 70+ programs impact children, families and seniors, from our Head Start (early childhood) program, to our Golden Agers (senior) program. Northwestern Settlement has a long history of starting and implementing exceptional programming; examples include our co-founding of the Noble Street Charter School Network (one of the most successful in the country), and our residential camp for Chicago inner city kids (one of only 4 left serving this population).

What new functionality we are looking for

Our current site was created by volunteers in the early 1990s, and therefore has programs and functionalities we do not know how to access and use. However, we have aggressive dreams for what will be a site that engages our neighbors and supports, by better telling our story in text and pictures. Other functionality goals related to the site include:

* Easy updating

* Streaming video

* Revolving photos

* An "intranet" where our junior board members can access information and learn about discrete opportunities to support our work

* A blog where students at our charter school, community members and supporters can share personal stories and connect

* Functionality that will allow the site to act as a "hub" for all communications, particularly social media

* More easily facilitated on-line giving

* More user friendly, allowing us to better highlight our impact and successes

How the new functionality will help

Northwestern Settlement is a fantastic, high-impact organization with a complicated message and long history. Even our closest, most supportive donors and volunteers struggle to communicate our value to other audiences. Our site does not help with this either, as it is dated, text heavy, image sparse, and leans more toward historical fact (the history of Setltements, past presidents, etc...)than to how we change lives.

The relic site has "hand-cuffed" - the technology is dated and the volunteers who knew how to "work it" are long gone from the organization. This has impeded our ability to engage our stakeholders and communicate our message and value in the manner we'd like.

A new site will work better with social media and allow us to "funnel" prospective volunteers and donors to and from our site.

It will incorporate more pictures and stories related to our high-performing programs

It will allow stakeholders to become more deeply aware of our work and how they can support it.

The improved pictures, navigation and "feel" will encourage people to visit, stay longer and learn more, impacting our outreach to new audiences.

The new site will better allow us to highlight and feature our corporate, community and junior board partners, who provide so much to us.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Our Mission

Nurture. Educate. Inspire. For more than 120 years Through more than 70 programs and services Northwestern Univeristy Settlement Nurtures, Educates and INSPIRES children, families and seniors in Chicago’s needy West Town community, empowering them to take personal responsibility and achieve self-sufficiency. Northwestern Settlement changes lives through programs that focus on education, social services and the arts. Our programs “wrap-around” to fit the many, complex needs of those we serve (our “neighbors”). This holistic approach to community building provides our neighbors: • Immediate assistance for short-term emergencies • Knowledge, opportunities, and support to break the long-term cycle of poverty • Access to a rich, city-wide network of additional programs and services In fiscal year 2010, Northwestern Settlement distributed more than 400,000 punds of food and touched more than 38,000 lives.