The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Minneapolis 2017, April 22-23


YouthCARE's (Youth for Cultural Appreciation & Racial Equality) core programs - Camp Sunrise, YouthLEAD, and the Young Women's Mentoring Program - are designed to offer cultural exchange and education activities in each program empower youth to feel pride in their culture, trust and respect themselves and others, and work toward greater cultural appreciation and racial equality.

Through employment opportunities and job skills workshops, youth participants gain the skills necessary to excel in a multicultural workplace and community. Through cooking classes, healthy lifestyle workshops, and financial literacy training, youth build a foundation to be self-sufficient and make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.

What new functionality we are looking for

The current YouthCARE website was built in 2010 in Joomla with a few upgrades since then. That sentence alone could be enough of a statement to why YouthCARE needs a new website. However, there are several other reasons why we are applying for The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge.

1. Websites build brand awareness. Our website looks old and tired. It isn’t a true reflection of the innovative work being done throughout the organization.

2. Pictures are still worth 1,000 words. We are looking for a solution to regularly share youth spotlights that demonstrate the value and importance of supporting YouthCARE, with both time and money. In the current format, photos have to be uploaded via FTP. The image URL is then copied and pasted into Joomla. It is too complicated for most of our staff.

3. Secure donation portal.

4. Sign-up forms for volunteers or newsletter subscriptions.

5. Test marketing strategies with different landing pages.

6. Social media integration.

7. A blog-style platform to help establish staff as “experts” in the field of youth development.

How the new functionality will help

Three goals were identified in YouthCARE’s Strategic Plan for 2017-19: 1) to enhance resource development and sustainability; 2) strengthen programs; and 3) to build stakeholder and public awareness. Of those, two can begin to happen immediately with a new website – brand awareness and sustainability.

A new website will be at the heart of an enhanced marketing strategy that includes a new quarterly e-newsletter to stakeholders (through eTapestry and Constant Contact); intentionally sharing youth success stories to demonstrate the value and importance of our work (through social media channels); and a platform to thank key donors (through a stronger corporate sponsorship initiative). A new website will become the landing place for more depth to youth features and articles in the e-newsletter. It also will be where we can direct people for event promotions, volunteer sign-up forms, and youth job postings. It will be the online "hub" for the organization with the primary goal to increase our visibility and brand awareness within the community and broaden our support base.

How our organization will use the technology

Currently, YouthCARE has one person for development and marketing responsibilities. Thanks to a three-year grant for Culturally Specific Organizations from the Greater Twin Cities United Way, we are in the process of hiring a development assistant. The new employee will become the lead person for managing the grant application and reporting process. This will allow me to redirect my time to implement the enhanced marketing strategic previously described.

Instead of updating the website when there's time, an updated content management system will ease of use for the website to be maintained proactively. This includes updated photos, successful youth stories, and recognizing volunteers and donors more. This will increase our brand awareness; allow volunteers and supporters to become more engaged; and broaden our financial base, which will eventually make the organization more sustainable.

Who will use the technology

A new website will be used to its fullest capacity by the Coordinator of Development and Marketing. The new Development Assistant also will maintain the website once established in their primary job responsibilities. Finally, training will be provided to the executive director, program directors, direct service staff, and possibly youth to use the website to post articles, success stories, events, and more for review and approval. This will help distribute the workload needed to properly maintain a strong and active web presence as well as provide additional employment skills for our staff and youth. 

With the integration of volunteer applications and newsletter subscription into the database portal, our staff also will be to contact volunteers to work with youth for employment-readiness activities such as resume building and mock interviews.

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_tc2017-youthcare-before Thumbnail_tc2017-youthcare-after

28 Messages from Supporters

2017-03-14 23:24:33 UTC

I have been involved with YouthCARE for more than 35 years. As a former camper, Junior Counselor, and Assistant Counselor at Camp Sunrise, I learned about being a leader; to appreciate people from different cultures and countries; and the importance of friendship. The experiences at Camp as a teenager shaped the values that I have today and that I am now passing on to my children.

2017-03-15 00:07:44 UTC

I have many friends who are current and former Nerds. I have also been involved with YouthCARE since I was a camper in 1996 and in various roles up until the present, and now I am serving on the board. I have always thought that the Overnight Website Challenge would be a great thing to help YouthCARE and the many youth it serves. YouthCARE was vital for me in high school when I was in danger of dropping out and didn't feel engaged. It gave me the leadership skills, role models, and community to stick with things through high school and college. I have gone on to get a master's degree and now I am in a leadership role in Fortune 500 company in the Twin Cities. I think the Nerdery could be instrumental in helping YouthCARE to reach more youth and connect with them and supporters more effectively. Please, Nerds, this is a great cause!

2017-03-15 00:17:23 UTC

I have been involved with YouthCARE since 2008 as a volunteer and employee. This is a great organization that empowers youth and provides youth with life skills and friendships that will impact them beyond their years in YouthCARE programming. Many alumni stay engaged or come back to work at YouthCARE's Camp Sunrise. I think a new revamped website would help show how great YouthCARE is and continues to be! The new website would also have the potential to reach even more youth in the twin cities and maximize their digital strategy.

2017-03-15 01:15:26 UTC
Marjorie schalles

My daughter grew from a child into a focused and accomplished young adult through her involvement with Youth Care. She developed leadership skills she didn't know she had, and has become a mature and eager leader in her industry. I heard about this terrific organization when she was 14, a very difficult time in her life, and Youth Care gave her confidence and direction when she really needed it. She met some wonderful mentors and other kids who also were unsure how to make the transition to adulthood, and Youth Care provided direction and knowledge at a time when she needed strong role models.

2017-03-15 02:36:33 UTC
Michelle Miller

I have been involved with YouthCARE since 1998 as volunteer camp counselor and board member. I remember the days before the organization had computers or a website and I have watched how it has maximized the use of technology to reach & engage youth and supporters. It would a huge benefit to this worthy organization to take the next leap forward to further engage the YouthCARE family!

2017-03-15 05:45:18 UTC

Youth Care rocks, and Camp Sunrise is awesome! What a fantastic organization!

2017-03-16 03:29:12 UTC

YouthCARE is a unique youth development agency. We work with more than 600 multicultural youth from Minneapolis and St. Paul each year. Ninety-eight percent of the youth we serve are youth of color and 98 percent qualify for free- and/or reduced-price lunch. YouthCARE has been helping youth make the successful transition from adolescence to adulthood for more than four decades. I have been in youth development in cities across America for more than 40 years, and I can attest to the effectiveness of YouthCARE programs. We have a committed group of youth, staff and volunteers who believe in the organization and its mission. I invite your support for YouthCARE as we vie for a website makeover that will enhance our ability to serve youth in our community!

2017-03-16 01:49:10 UTC

YouthCARE is probably the most meaningful cause I have ever had the honor to support. The outreach they make and the difference they create in the lives of diverse youth is powerful and inspiring, so much so that my husband even volunteers his time and my friends volunteer their support! The work they do is very important and their resources are very limited. I am amazed at the amount they accomplish with so little and they are the most deserving of this website design! They are in the process of changing lives, I'm in the process of helping them, you can be a HUGE part of that process too!!!

2017-03-16 03:37:20 UTC
Willie Dean, Ph.D.

YouthCARE is a wonderful organization that has been helping multicultural youth develop leadership skills and friends across cultures for 42 years. Operating on a modest budget, YouthCARE is dependent on corporate and foundation grants, individual donations and in-kind support. A new website would enhance YouthCARE's ability to serve the hundreds of youth in our community who depend on YouthCARE's education, employment and leadership programs. I am proud to serve as Executive Director of YouthCARE, and I invite your support of a fantastic organization!

2017-03-16 12:58:16 UTC

YouthCARE is it. Technology is it. Time to bring YouthCARE and the Nerdery together! You are smart, dedicated, talented nerds who are making a difference. YouthCARE are smart, talented, community change-makers creating change with youth. Let's make this change together.

2017-03-16 16:44:02 UTC

YouthCARE is an amazing organization.They have a hardworking staff that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of multicultural youth, through developmental initiatives and opportunities. A new website would be a wonderful tool to help them reach their goals and change the world through the next generation of leaders.

2017-03-17 16:28:22 UTC

I'm a board member for YouthCARE and a marketing executive and look forward to the opportunity to bring our digital and web presence into the 21st century! This is a truly amazing organization, doing awesome work, but we are also the best kept secret in the space. We want a digital presence that we are PROUD to share with volunteers, donors, business partners and the communities we serve. We'd love the help from the Nerdery to make our website as awesome as the people we work with!

2017-03-16 22:25:44 UTC
Lica Tomizuka Sanborn

As a former board member and chair of the board of directors, I have had the privilege of observing YouthCARE's work up close. It is truly an amazing program with incredible staff which provides HOPE to urban youth and provides them with tools to help them succeed. YouthCARE makes a REAL difference in the lives of the youth it serves.

YouthCARE teaches youth leadership skills, shows youth that there are caring adults who want to help them succeed, teaches youth job skills, gives youth opportunities to learn about and engage people of different backgrounds (and become friends!), and, maybe most importantly, gives youth hope for a better future. At this very moment in history, when it can be a challenge to feel very hopeful, the services of YouthCARE are more important than ever. We need a hope-filled future, so we need our youth to be hopeful. YouthCARE helps to provide that HOPE.

As the then chair of the marketing committee of the YouthCARE board of directors which, in 2009 and 2010, tackled a re-branding exercise and creation of a new website for YouthCARE, I am acutely aware of the resources and help that are (and are not) available to extremely worthy non-profits like YouthCARE. The Nerdery's commitment to the community is awesome, and I sincerely hope that YouthCARE is selected a beneficiary of this contest!

Thank you for all that you do for the community.

2017-03-17 02:00:53 UTC

YouthCARE continues to serve underprivileged communities and build bridges in some of the communities that other organizations would look away. They continue to provide leadership opportunities for today's youth and is very good about making sure the youth voice is heard. This organization is great! They deserve the new website to reflect the great things they continue to do in this community.

2017-03-17 05:15:36 UTC

I am a first generation American from a big family of eight kids. My parents could never afford to send all of us to summer camp or to pay for any afterschool enrichment program even if they wanted to. When I was in high school preparing to apply for college one of my College Possible--back then, Admission Possible--coach introduced the organization to my peers and I. Because YouthCARE provided so much for its youth, I felt at ease knowing that I didn’t have to ask my parents for much and that they didn’t have to stress over funds they didn’t have to send me to programs or activities that would enrich my life.

From that time on I’ve been with YouthCARE since, and that was about 14 years ago. Through the years I have taken on multiple roles in the organization starting off as a camp participant to taking on employment and leadership roles. I find that this is what also makes YouthCARE unique, its willingness and openness to continue in building its young people.

YouthCARE is a great organization helping to build a strong foundation for our urban youth, many who come from a diverse background: low-income, at-risk youth, struggling families, first generation, etc. Growing up in such environments YouthCARE becomes a safe growing space for many of whom even after their involvement with the organization use what they have gain to continue building on themselves and in their own special ways, give back to the organization.

Hundreds of youth come through the organization each year and they leave having gained employment and life skills, and lifelong friendships—some, a new and caring family or support system. YouthCARE, I feel, is one of the prime building blocks for youth like myself to become good citizens of the world. With the changing times, youth now connect more via the digital world. For YouthCARE to be able to effectively and efficiently present and share the amazing work it does with our now-youth via a medium that they understand and use, I feel it will be such an integral component for YouthCARE to reach more and impact more lives. Although all the other candidates are equally deserving, I highly encourage you to take a special look at YouthCARE and the work it has done and still do: an organization that builds life skills and assists in the enrichment and development of youth to become better citizens while providing them with life's very basic needs such as a safe environment, caring and supportive adults/mentors, food or snacks, survival/camping skills, etc.

2017-03-17 16:53:50 UTC
Jeff Proulx

I am proud to serve as the current Treasurer for YouthCARE and a member of its Board of Directors. I've enjoyed reading the other testimonials offered about YouthCARE by its participants and beneficiaries, and I could not agree more with them.

YouthCARE is a small organization that strives to make a big difference. Historically, YouthCARE hasn't had extra funds to devote toward improved technology and website development. Having a reinvigorated website would allow YouthCARE to better tell its story and to engage more deeply with its constituents. It would also contribute meaningfully toward YouthCARE's long-term stability and growth.

Thank you for considering YouthCARE for this opportunity, and for The Nerdery's substantial contributions to the Twin Cities nonprofit community.

2017-03-17 17:11:53 UTC
Nardos Tesfalidet

I have had the privilege of both volunteering and working for the organization for years and have witnessed the impact that YouthCARE has on our participants. YouthCARE has provided phenomenal life, leadership and employment opportunities for youth ages 6-18 in the Twin Cities for over 40 years. With your support we will be able to increase visibility and ultimately support our fundraising, marketing & recruitment efforts! Please consider selecting YouthCARE to receive a new website so we can continue to provide quality programming for our participants. And who knows some of our STEM opportunities may pave the way to future nerds!

2017-03-17 19:18:23 UTC

I have played many roles within YouthCARE for the past 14 years. It's a magical place and has made a very big impact on my life. The organization has a special spot in my heart and I hope that it carries on and spreads the love throughout our future generations of youth!!!

2017-03-17 19:36:25 UTC
Andre Walker

YouthCARE changed my life by allowing me to make friends with people of different cultural backgrounds. Today I still retain knowledge of words in my peers language I met St Camp Sunrise. I had the opportunity to become a leader as staff member and volunteer. This summer will make 18 years since I first became involved with YouthCARE. This organization helps develop leaders in a multicultural environment. That is what I appreciate the most. Learning about other cultures from a first hand experience is great. I started as a camper in 1999 and still stay involved because I value YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise's mission.

2017-03-17 20:17:55 UTC

YouthCARE has been a constant in my life since I was a 7 year old Girls Group participant. From there I went on to become a youth employee, and later filled a number of adult staff positions throughout the organization.

One might ask, why have you stuck around all of these years? I could never say enough to explain the many reasons why and couldn't thoroughly explain the many ways that YouthCARE has impacted my life.

As a youth, YouthCARE literally saved my life. I was connected with passionate and resourceful youth development workers who cared enough to advocate for me on many fronts, connect me to resources, encourage me to make healthy decisions, and validate my being. Those adults lead me through a tumultuous time in my life and their inspiration, knowledge, and wisdom, were a substantial part of the mold that makes up who I am.

In an effort to "give back", I have served as a Program Coordinator at YouthCARE, working with young gals, ages 7-18, who come from the same community site that I came from. There I've had the chance to teach girls, ages 7-12, lessons about life-skills, leadership, STEM, art, and so much more. In addition, I also have the honor of supervising, mentoring, and coaching the girls' Youth Mentors. There has been nothing more gratifying than building relationships with these young people, seeing them group up, and eventually seeing them become Youth Mentors for younger girls in their community.

Here are some quotes from some of my former youth participants (now young adults), which are comments that were left on one of my social media profiles:

"Back at you! Love you dearly!!!!! I wish you knew how much you inspire & impact us & our lives! Stay the same forever millie!!!!" -A.M.

"Millie you are the greatest. You were my mentor since I was 7 years old. Same with all my sisters!! You were a huge impact on my life and for that i'm truly grateful". -A.H.

"I had so much fun yesterday visiting the girls and seeing the beauty of life through perspective. Thanks for all your love, you're amazing." -D.C.

I'm not sharing these quotes to toot my own horn, but to give a sense of the depth of the meaningful youth to adult relationships that are built through YouthCARE programs. What these young women expressed in their words, is what I would also express towards former YouthCARE staff members who impacted my life very significantly. I will save the shout outs for another time.

Having been around YouthCARE for what feels like forever, I have seen our technology and use of it evolve, but at a snail's pace. Progress is good, but the opportunity to have a new website would be GREAT!! Please help us raise our visibility, expand the functionality for users, and impress all of our online visitors.

Thanks for the generosity of your team and for considering YouthCARE!

2017-03-17 21:08:24 UTC

I have been involved with YouthCARE for several decades and continue to be impressed with the success which is achieved with helping young people of color become better leaders, employees, and community members through education and a caring staff committed to help young people succeed. This helps to break the cycle of poverty which seems to hold so many young people back.

As the world has changed using technology and social media as more of an integral part of daily life, having an up to date website platform makes the work that YouthCARE can achieve even more effective. Being able to have support from a group dealing with website technology all the time will enable YouthCARE's website to be updated without using other funds so vital to the organizations success and mission. Thank you to The Nerdery for your potential support of this effort.

2017-03-17 20:36:39 UTC
Craig Luedemann

As one of the founders of the organization in 1974, I can tell you that for over 40 years YouthCARE has been a shining example of how adults and youth from diverse ethnic, cultural and racial backgrounds can live, work and even play together. From top-notch youth employment and mentoring programs to an amazing multicultural summer camp on the St. Croix River, YouthCARE consistently meets the out-of-school time needs of the 500-600 urban youth who participate annually. Importantly, youth are also connected with adult staff and volunteers who truly care about them.

I wholeheartedly support YouthCARE's request for technology support and hope that the decision makers will recognize that this lean (but not mean!) team needs and deserves your support!

2017-03-18 13:59:14 UTC
Sherry Holtz

YouthCARE plays a very important role with the youth in our community through education, employment and leadership programs! I've done consulting work with YouthCARE - the organization has highly capable and committed staff who do wonders with very limited resources. I think YouthCARE is an organization that is very deserving of a new website and would be able to make an even greater positive impact on the youth in our community as a result!

2017-03-18 16:03:52 UTC

I have served on the Board of Directors of Youth Care in the past and continue to participate in some of the organization's events. This organization keeps growing and improving in its work to bring youth together from many cultural backgrounds. It is one of the best at helping youth develop into leaders. Now more than ever, we need more youth for cultural awareness and racial equality.

Every time this organization has received a grant they have made the best use of the resources provided. Receiving assistance for a new website will play a huge part in helping them continue their hard work for youth.

2017-03-18 23:51:20 UTC

YouthCARE is incredible! Throughout the years many generations have crossed paths and grown together! Together, we are a village that raises one another and continue to strive for the best in each of us. Let's continue the great work!

2017-03-20 03:40:46 UTC

Youthcare introduced me to community, service learning, diversity and most importantly positive relationships as a teenager. I am confident to say that the programming provided by Youthcare can save lives of many youth as they are encouraged and inspired by the people they meet. There is also life-long friendships that are built in this organization, and a new website would allow Youthcare to continue building positive impact and connections for youth and adult.

2017-03-20 16:27:53 UTC
Kayla Swanson

YouthCARE is truly an amazing organization that not only fosters the growth and development of young leaders but also pushes for the growth and professional advancement of its employees. I would not be in the position I am in today (currently a Case Manager for a Youth Employment Program in California) if it was not for the support and trust from the leadership team at YouthCARE. My summer working at Camp Sunrise was one of the most gratifying summers of my life - it is where some of my most cherished memories were made. I have worked briefly across all areas of YouthCARE's program (Camp Sunrise, YouthCARE, YWMP) and I can attest that ALL of their programs encompass what GREAT youth development programs should look like and continues to serve as a personal model for me in my roles across many different organizations. It is very evident that YouthCARE's positive influence in our community is profound - but imagine the possibles of their reach with a new website!!!!!! Help 'em out <3

2017-03-27 14:43:10 UTC

I tagged along with my two older brothers who were involved in Youthcare after school programming and eventually I went to Camp Sunrise. I was definitely out of my comfort zone because I was alone for the first time at a Youthcare program/activity. I thought I was going to be miserable for the week, but I FELL IN LOVE!!! The people, the energy, THE FOOD (haha), the place.. everything about it was great. It was the perfect environment for me and I just knew I wanted to be back. The following summer of 2016, I signed up as a Junior Counselor and I was so surprised to have gotten accepted because I had only been a camper once and didn't even attend leadership week because I had tryouts. At one point, I started to regret signing up so early as a JC, but soon enough, I realized that it was a good choice because had I not, I wouldn't had met and gotten so close to the people who I am with today :). Long story short, BEST SUMMER EVER! Summer sixteen has changed me forever. I know I have friends from different backgrounds, good memories to fill in for the bad ones, and a second home for me to always go to. Camp Sunrise/ YouthCare holds a special meaning in my heart that has impacted me immensely. It would be amazing to be able to spread this amazing program because I'm sure that it'll have a impact on many others as well as it did to me!

Our Mission

YouthCARE’s mission is to promote respect for self and others, develop future leaders, and provide youth with positive multicultural activities and relationships with caring adults. All YouthCARE activities are completely free. Transportation is provided when needed, and youth can expect to eat a meal or snack at every activity.