The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2017, March 18-19

i.c.stars (Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation)

Paired with Nuthin but Net

Formed in 1998, Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation (i.c.stars) is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization and social enterprise that prepares young adults for technology careers and community leadership. Using project-based learning and full-immersion teaching, i.c.stars recruits and develops resilient individuals, placing 90 percent of graduates. Working as developers or business analysts, graduates see their annual earnings increase by an average of 400 percent as a result of i.c.stars. In 2016, i.c.stars opened its first affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, with plans to open in Milwaukee, WI, in 2017.

What new functionality we are looking for

Our website is not easy for our main stakeholders to use. Applicants drop off the site or funnel, meaning we have to work harder in recruitment. Information for employers is hard to find, which means the website does not deliver on the most important organizational metric - helping graduates find jobs. The outdated design of our events pages do not reflect the richness of the experience. Furthermore, the website only captures part of our work and network: nowhere on the site would you learn that i.c.stars is expanding nationally. Similarly, you’d not know about our community partners, nor our full program offering - we launched a lean startup training for alumni. To make matters worse, outdated backend coding means we’ve experienced outages.

How the new functionality will help

i.c.stars' mission is find, train, and put talent to work. To find talent, we need a better way to capture potential applicants, and a shorter entry point to the application itself.

Training talent relies on our curriculum and robust network of community and employer partners, neither of which is fully captured on our current website. New training offerings, such as our lean startup program and incubator, is also not part of our site, which lessens our ability to fundraise and promote this activity. Similarly our expansion city - soon to be cities - are also not shown on our website.

Last, putting talent to work means that employers must easily see the value proposition, and navigate to a call to action. Currently, employers get lost and drop off the site. In addition, the website does not communicate our social staffing enterprise, which helps places graduates in contract employment and generates mission-aligned income.

How our organization will use the technology

Adopting i.c.stars for its Website Challenge means that, thanks to The Nerdery Foundation, we will be able to worry less about operations and back office, and spend more time and resources on the inner-city young adults we serve. Our new or upgraded platform will attract advocates, funders and applicants. An improved application will make our recruiting efforts more efficient, cutting down on time and resources. An upgraded events portal will attract more attendees and sponsors, boosting fundraising efforts. Because our network is such a strong part of our brand, listing community partners, volunteers and expansion cities will enhance our marketing efforts and visibility. The bottom line, is that with streamlined navigation and easier to find information, we expect to see improvement across marketing, recruitment, operations, fundraising.

Who will use the technology

Recruitment will benefit from a higher number of applicants at each stage of the funnel. Development and marketing will benefit from sales leads and foundations who easily find the value proposition and impact on the website. Operations will benefit from a website that is fully functioning and communicating with the financial and CRM systems. Graduates of the organization will benefit from learning about alumni events and offerings - such as the lean startup training program and incubator.

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_chi2017-icstars-before Thumbnail_chi2017-icstars-after

17 Messages from Supporters

2017-02-11 08:56:08 UTC
Mark Griesbaum

I have been involved in the i.c.stars organization over the past many years and have watched it grow and evolve. The one constant is its passion for attracting, training, and placing adults in the IT industry and help them better their lives. I now am honored to be a Board member of this great organization, and it would be awesome if their website could reflect the essence of the impact this organization has had in the Chicagoland community since 1998.

2017-02-11 02:44:24 UTC
Bob Kress

i.c.stars has life changing positive impact on their students! Having a well designed web presence is essential for attracting students, sponsors, and volunteers --- and any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

2017-02-10 22:07:51 UTC

I'm a long time supporter of i.c.stars and member of their board. A robust, attractive, easy to use digital presence - across all platforms - is an essential ingredient in our organization's success. Help us create something special!

2017-02-10 22:25:00 UTC
Sabrina King

I've been a long-time friend and advocate of i.c.Stars and would love for them to finally gain a website that matches how awesome the organization is. Help would be wonderfully appreciated.

2017-02-10 21:03:27 UTC
Mary Ellen

I am a long-time supporter of and volunteer to i.c.stars. I am all too well aware of the limitations of the existing site and the value an improved digital presence will bring to the org. Please help us with this creative solution to an important need.

2017-02-10 22:09:47 UTC
Ed Earl

Hi, the i.c.Stars organization is scaling up and the current web site is not designed to support the expansion. Help would be appreciated.

2017-02-10 22:14:34 UTC
Brice Jones (Austin, Tx)

It is sunny and 76 degrees in Austin today, but not so nice in Chicago. Even though I live in Austin, I love I.c. Stars. It is an awesome organization! All help to fix and maintain the web page is mich appreciated!!

2017-02-12 17:51:33 UTC
Yvonne Scott

I have been a Board member with ic stars for over a decade. I remain committed because this organization helps the entire IT community.

ic stars not only empowers the interns that pass through its programs to attain their full potential, but also creates community leaders that are change agents in our communities and IT professionals that will contribute to companies whose technology will serve the world. It is a force multiplier that is, literally, making this a better world.

We have done a great job promoting our mission by word of mouth and through professional networks. To achieve OUR full potential, we need a more robust digital presence. It would be fantastic if you expanded our reach by joining the network of people and organizations committed to making people, businesses and the world better.

2017-02-11 18:31:42 UTC
Pat Moroney

I have supported icstars since being CIO at Blue Cross. They were crucial to helping me populate the IT team with young, aggressive, talented, energetic interns who impressed the team and helped set new standards for effort and contribution. I continue to hire their interns to this day because they are a great investment and they are the cream of the crop. They get to that point by months of hard work, boot camping, training and focusing on helping themselves and others and icstars works hard to turn them towards focusing on leading in their profession, businesses and their communities. This organization rocks - it makes the world and our profession a better place one intern at a time!

2017-02-12 20:32:30 UTC
Laurel McGrath

Find,train,and put talent to work is the mission of i.c.stars. It's been an honor to be associated with i.c.stars for the past 16 years as a supporter and then a Board Member. To enable i.c.stars to provide even greater focus on its mission with a new website would provide support to i.c.stars, its interns, alumni and the IT Communities it serves. What a fabulous investment for all of us.

2017-02-12 23:00:02 UTC
Megan McCann

As both an i.c.stars board member and IT recruitment business owner/leader, I understand the implications of the talent deficient both here in the Chicago, as well as across the United States. It is a growing challenge and will be so for the immediate future.

i.c.stars – a workforce development training program – is taking action to address the talent gap while opening doors for young adults in the community. Launched in Chicago, i.c.stars finds talent, trains talent and gets that talent ready for the market to hire. The impact i.c.stars has had to date is remarkable; all one needs to do is look at some key statistics. For example, 90% of graduates are placed in roles like software engineers or business analysts AND graduates see their annual earnings increase by an average of 400% as a result of completing the program.

With a foundation of success laid here in Chicago, i.c.stars is scaling, growing and increasing its reach nationally. The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge has the capacity to help the Foundation, not to mention the communities it serves (or will serve).

Selecting i.c.stars for a web site update will enable i.c.stars to adopt an enhanced digital presence, thereby supporting it ongoing success, as well as its scope of reach. Thank you for the consideration and for seeing stars.

2017-02-13 01:16:13 UTC
John Higginson

I'm the CTO at Enova International, a Financial Services company in Chicago and a long-time supporter of i.c.stars, its students, and its mission. The work of i.c.stars is truly life-changing for its graduates. These are young people who are incredibly smart and driven but lack the opportunities for a more traditional education in technology. More recently they've expanded to Columbus, OH and are running an incubator for startup companies from these same communities.

As i.c.stars mentions in their submission, their current site isn't reflective of all the work they do and is not easy for potential students to find and navigate. There's a tremendous opportunity for for this site to make applications easier, to promote their mission (including better connections to social media), and continued opportunities for graduates.

For the Nerdery, this would be great exposure to many companies in the Chicago area. The work of i.c.stars is supported by many of Chicago's CIOs and CTOs who work and hire the students, and participate in i.c.stars' events throughout the year. This website redesign would be very visible for a number of companies who would be potential Nerdery customers.

I wholeheartedly support this application and hope i.c.stars is selected for the Overnight Website Challenge.

- John

2017-02-13 12:25:59 UTC
Michele Shippy

As an Assistant Director for Information Services at Crowe Horwath for the last 8 years, I discovered i.c. stars when my CIO asked me to participate in high tea on her behalf. I was very humbled with the experience. The excitement for technology and how the interns articulated their roles and expertise was very impressive. This is how my involvement began with this meaningful organization.

I have had the privilege and opportunity to volunteer with i.c. stars for over a 6 year period mentoring the interns, teaching business skills, and coaching in interview skills, as they prepare to go into their careers. The interns passion for learning, growing, and driving the impact to business with technology remains a constant.

In my involvement, their desire to succeed has been infectious for me as a volunteer. It has enthused my interest in IT as a career when I see it through their eyes. The interns are engaged, participate in a rigorous program and go on to add immediate value to organizations.

I remain in contact with many interns from prior cycles who have gone forward and achieved success in IT. As I have had a 30 year progressive IT career, giving back is very important to me. I encourage any IT leader to contribute to i.c. stars with time, focus, and funding, to continue to invest in 'our' IT professions future.

2017-02-13 17:53:27 UTC
Leslie Vickrey

I am a proud board member and HUGE fan of i.c.stars! i.c.stars is one of those organizations that once you get involved, you never want to leave - they make that much of a difference in the communities they serve and it's so rewarding to be a part of it. That said, we need to help ensure their brand accurately reflects who they are as a business today and attracts the right talent to apply for the program and companies to contribute via hiring and/or sponsorship. Help take i.c.stars to the next level as they continue to grow and evolve by awarding them a new website. You won't be disappointed.

2017-02-13 22:02:47 UTC
Cathie Kozik

i.c. stars is an important member of the Chicago STEM community. i.c. stars helps its students reach their full potential as technology leaders - and helps companies reach out to this valuable talent pool. A more robust website, with features that attract and retain both students and businesses, is vital for i.c.stars success - and in this changing environment is critical to the expansion of its mission. Thanks for making this award possible!

2017-02-15 15:25:39 UTC
Scott Glickson

What has always impressed me over the approximately 20 years that I have been involved with i.c. stars is the dedication of its team to do the best it can for our interns and, equally, the passion that the interns develop to better their lives and their communities. It is incongruous among all this excellence, dedication and hard work for the organization to have anything less than the best website it can have.

2017-02-21 15:22:32 UTC
Melinda Kramer

I.c.stars is a leader in transformation for inner city kids and their communities. They take kids who have been left behind by our society and teach them technology and workplace skills that propel them from Minimum wage workers to valued technology employees. They engage the Chicago tech community for mentoring and they assist companies by creating a stream of motivated, entry level tech staff that is ready and willing to work hard at success. They are an inspirational organization and I challenge anyone not familiar to spend an afternoon with I.c.stars and see for yourself.

Our Mission

i.c.stars is a workforce development organization and social enterprise. We find talent, train talent, and put talent to work. We develop change-driven young adults to excel in technology careers and effect change as community leaders. Core to i.c.stars is the idea of transformation: participants transform from consumer to innovator; from cafe worker to full-stack developer. As a result, their economic prospects improve dramatically. But i.c.stars is about more than jobs training; its incorporation of social justice builds community leaders who volunteer, give charitably and form their own nonprofits. Through this process, i.c.stars changes perceptions of inner-city young adults: they become opportunity, harnessing technology to drive community change.