The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2014, April 12-13


Paired with VSA Partners

VOCEL: Viewing Our Children as Emerging Leaders is a non-profit early childhood center serving pre-kindergarten children in low-income communities. Ultimately, VOCEL’s innovative approach to language develop will be the change our city needs, expanding from its initial site to build leaders through language in communities across the Chicagoland area. This September VOCEL will launch its first preschool program which will provide full-day, year-round care to 17 at-risk children on the west side of Chicago. VOCEL’s program will be subsidized by state funding so services will be provided to families at little to no cost.

What new functionality we are looking for

VOCEL seeks to have a website that can be informative for both prospective and current donors as well as parents and community members. We’d like to have the functionality to display videos on our website so visitors can see what happens at VOCEL. Additionally, we want to be able to feature a variety of images that bring VOCEL to life for visitors who have not experienced it firsthand. We’d also like to have the functionality for donors to contribute directly from our website. If possible, we’d like the website to allow different groups of stakeholders to log in to protected parts of the website, i.e. a parent portal.

How the new functionality will help

Currently our website is one of our least sophisticated marketing materials. We’ve used a webhosting service that doesn’t allow us the ability to customize the website to our liking. Our website has the potential to define the brand of VOCEL and we desire for that to be professional and polished. The childcare field in Chicago is largely run by small for-profit agencies, and as a non-profit seeking to catalyze systemic change in the early childhood education fiend, we’d like to provide a website experience that is on par with some of the best non-profit sites around.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

13 Messages from Supporters

2014-03-16 23:03:39 UTC
Tom Powers

I’ve known about VOCEL since it was just an idea two years ago. The founders, Kelly & Jesse, have taken a vision and turned it into a program that will help needy children and families in Chicago. I can’t think of an organization with harder workers than these two. They’ve figured out to overcome every barrier, and this web design support could help them immensely. I support VOCEL and hope they’ll be included in the competition. Any group of designers would be lucky to work with these two visionary women to better early childhood development here in Chicago.

2014-03-16 23:27:06 UTC
Jennifer Alter Warden

Kelly and Jesse are two of the most focused, determined and talented young women I know. I have been privleged to watch VOCEL move from a concept to reality, and if I were a web design team I would be excited to be a part of building something so important. Chicago is fortunate to have citizens as entrepreneurial and committed as Kelly and Jesse, and I am convinced organizations like VOCEL will help move us in the right direction.

2014-03-16 23:38:43 UTC
Steph Landry

I have had the privilege of working with Kelly and Jesse for the past two years and am blown away by their dedication to children, families, and language. VOCEL has the potential to be a "leading light" in the early childhood world of Chicago and beyond. Its emphasis on literacy and language combined with research-backed interventions will both ensure that the students who walk through the doors will find their voices and serve as a model for similar endeavors in the future. I whole-heartedly support VOCEL and believe that this website could be a key component to getting them up and running and helping to communicate with parents and families. Please consider this amazing duo for this amazing prize!

2014-03-17 00:18:54 UTC
Patti Swakow

VOCEL is an early childhood center focused on providing low-income children with the early start they need. The pilot will serve a classroom of preschool-age children and ultimately, VOCEL will provide full-day, year-round care and education for children ages 6 weeks - 5 years old with the mission to equip VOCEL's children with the language and empathy to excel in their formal schooling and be leaders in the future.
Please choose Jesse & Kelly for this website challenge. They will then be able to spend their funds on these at-risk children, not improving their website!

2014-03-17 12:48:49 UTC

At a time when social media and Internet presence is important, it would be absolutely essential for VOCEL to have access to have an online presence via a website. Having worked with Jesse and Kelly for the last two years, it's been a pleasure to watch their idea of a preschool turn into a reality. Knowing first hand the effects of poverty on the language development and ultimate life opportunities for at risk students, famikies and communities, a website would be a great hub to close the communication gap for those who seek to learn more about the program or contribute financially to VOCEL. Jesse and Kelly are dedicated to providing high quality early education to students and families that need it the most in Chicago. Please support them in this endeavor by considering them for this wonderful and well deserved prize!!

2014-03-17 15:19:34 UTC
Ben Ilhardt

The passion and knowledge that VOCEL’s founders, Jesse and Kelly, have is incredible. It would be extremely beneficial for them to have a website that does justice to both these traits and, more importantly, the importance of the issue being addressed by VOCEL and the expertise being brought to help address this need. Jesse and Kelly work incredibly hard, all hours of the day, on VOCEL and I know they would love to partner with an organization that would devote the same level of passion and provide the same high level of service in helping them create a website.

2014-03-17 16:36:03 UTC
Nina Ryan

Vocel's mission to give all students the opportunity to enter elementary school not only on track, but with a running start, is something the city of Chicago owes its children. It is beyond exciting that Kelly and Jesse have taken up the mantle of this often over-looked cause. They have been working in the space for years (long before the President's speech highlighting the benefits of high quality pre-k) and have built not only the expertise, but the passion to serve the children of Chicago in the way they deserve. Having a high quality website to match their classroom work will add to their mission by allowing parents to more easily and meaningfully engage in their child's schooling. It will allow supporters to get a better feel for the work and thus encourage greater involvement. It will give a community and cause that rarely gets the trappings of sectors that are perceived as more "professional" the chance to be taken seriously and stand out among the crowd as true force for good in Chicago.

2014-03-17 18:01:22 UTC
Barbara Koren

Having spent the last 30 years in business and as a CEO, I've seen many start-ups and business models. I can attest that in addition to their expertise in the field of education, Jesse and Kelly are building their school on a strong foundation of best business practices including accountability metrics and financial acumen. Of the many non-profits I have been asked to support over the years, I have enthusiastically joined the VOCEL Board to give them both time and money because I believe in their mission, their passion, and their understanding of what it takes to substantially and factually improve the lives of the children they serve. They don't just talk a good game; they know how to execute. It would be powerful for VOCEL to have a website that reflects their school in a way that clearly communicates their goals to parents and potential investors.

As an aside, I'm very impressed with "The Nerdery" for devoting their time and talent to non-profits in this way. Thanks and hat's off to you for wanting to make a difference. It seems you want to change the world for the better, too, which makes you a great match for VOCEL.

2014-03-17 18:06:42 UTC

The passion, research and educationally sound base behind VOCEL is astounding. The amount of hard work, time and enthusiasm behind this project is truly inspiring, and Kelly and Jesse could really benefit from a website that will help share their vision with the world. They certainly deserve the help.

2014-03-18 20:34:24 UTC
Laura Amling

I have had the pleasure working along side, and developing a great friendship with Kelly and Jesse now since July. Though I have only worked directly with these leaders for 8 months, I have been hearing about their incredible vision for VOCEL for the past two years. Their passion, urgency, and undying drive to provide high quality education for our littlest ones humbles me and gives me a great sense of pride to say I even know them. They have had a laser focus for years to fill the gap of high quality education that all young learners in Chicago need before Kindergarten. These two women have created such BUZZ in not only the Teach For America community, but also in the larger Early Childhood community, I was hearing about this vision while teaching in D.C. They set a high bar for what it means to be an advocate in the ECE movement and have no doubt in my mind the impact VOCEL will make for many children to come in the future.

2014-03-19 17:02:22 UTC
Erin Lauesen

I have worked with Kelly and Jesse for several years now, and I could not be more excited for them to launch VOCEL! The passion they have shown for early childhood education, and their commitment to deepening their own understanding of research based best practices truly sets them apart. Their vision pertaining to language development in our youngest learners is such a critical gap that plays out in the entirety of a child's educational career, and I know that with the launch of their center, they will truly be transforming the lives of children and families they serve. You could not ask for two more deserving recipients!

2014-03-21 02:34:10 UTC
Matthew Lynch

We at Chicago Jesuit Academy look forward to hosting VOCEL in our school building for the 2014-2015 school year. We take great hope from their ambitious plans to provide high-quality early childhood education in our community, and we look forward to supporting their efforts however we can. I hope the Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge will choose to support Kelly and Jesse -- and, more importantly, their future students -- by selecting them as winners of this contest.

2014-03-22 02:29:08 UTC
Wendy E Navarro

I know Jesse like one of the most wonderful teachers the my daughter could it have in her preschool. I am so excited for the kids who are going to have the opportunity to be part of Vocel cause as a parent I do believe that Vocel is a good place for other kids .

Our Mission

VOCEL will provide the early start that children from low-income backgrounds need, equipping children with the language and empathy skills to excel now and as leaders in the future. All children will leave VOCEL on grade level for all social-emotional, cognitive and academic domains; all children will leave VOCEL with expressive and receptive vocabularies expected of kindergarten students (at least 1 year above grade level).