The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2012, November 17-18

Starlight Children's Foundation Midwest

Starlight is dedicated to helping chronically and critically ill children – and those who love and care for them – lead happier and healthier lives. Through therapeutic entertainment, education and family outings Starlight creates hope, joy and belonging.

For kids battling serious illnesses – or living with life-altering injuries - pain, fear and isolation can dominate. These kids, like all kids, deserve the opportunity to laugh and learn, play and grow – and Starlight helps them do just that. For parents and siblings, there is also stress, pressure and anxiety.

Starlight is the only organization that: serves more than 330,000 children, teens & family members each year; offers free services to kids and families; partners with 150+ hospitals across the Midwest; provides ongoing programming in & out of the hospital as well as online; benefits both seriously ill kids - and their families; gives continuous support from diagnosis through ongoing medical treatment; improves quality of life today and over the long term; serves kids with a wide variety of chronic/life threatening conditions, as well as multiple diagnoses; connects families facing similar challenges; and, is 100% privately funded and all funds raised remain local.

Starlight’s year-round, long term support for our kids and families provides them with an unparalleled chance to receive the services they cannot find anywhere else. We strive to continually grow because we have increasingly high demand, and a long waiting list, for each of our programs. The children and families we serve are disproportionately likely to face numerous other challenges, ranging from financial hardship, divorce, and other social and economic ills, and they have fewer resources to address these issues as so much is consumed by their medical challenges.

What new functionality we are looking for

Our website is the first impression we make with many. For people needing our services, it can be difficult to navigate our webpage. We want to ensure that our website makes it as easy as possible for folks to find what they need and to contact us. We need to improve it and leverage it to: educate the public about our mission and services, entice and engage volunteers, recruit kids and families who qualify for our services, and attract new donors to fund our work.

Currently our website is cluttered, with information across many different pages. We would like to consolidate and reorganize information for easier navigation. We need to leverage photos and videos to make it ‘come alive’ and truly reflect the magic that is Starlight. If it focused more on the kids/families we served and told our story through their voice, it would be much more compelling. We would also like to be more successful in adequately incorporating social media into our site to maximize the amount of information available to those that want it.

We also want to create a turnkey system that allows visitors who wish to volunteer and those requesting Starlight services to fill out and submit those applications online. Similarly, front ending customer self-service applications to keep our databases current would be enormously beneficial.

How the new functionality will help

Today in America, 1 in 11 children battles with a critical or chronic medical condition. We serve this population of children and their families in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Often our website is the most convenient way for those we serve, and those we could/should serve, to get information about our services and programs. The only problem is our website does not make it very easy for these folks, because it can be difficult for families to locate the specific resources they need. It is our goal to make this process as easy as possible. Additionally, it can also be tedious for people to donate money, goods, or time online. We would therefore like to create a turn-key operation that streamlines these options by making them entirely digital, including filling out and submitting forms directly through our website. With your help, we hope to enhance our webpage to aid in our mission of reaching everyone in our region qualifying for Starlight’s services. In addition, it is our goal that everyone wanting to be a part of our team or simply visiting our website to learn more about Starlight would be met with as few road blocks as possible.

We are also constantly working to strengthen our social media platforms. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow us to share information in an easy and quick manner. Moving forward with our entirely community we would love to see these sites leveraged and advertised more effectively on our website so that all of our online visitors can become more involved with our organization

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

5 Messages from Supporters

2012-10-18 19:37:58 UTC
Jason B

The Starlight Children's Foundation is an amazing charity. I have volunteered with, donated to and worked for many different charities in the City of Chicago. Starlight is a place focused on their children. Nothing is more important than bringing a little bit of laughter or cheer to a child who is living with a terrible medical condition. As an organization that is completely funded by the charity and good will of others, Starlight would be an amazing recipient of this work.

2012-10-18 20:52:16 UTC

Experiencing the smiles of kids and families at Great Escapes events and hearing how Starlight provides opporunities for them to create lasting memories together fuels my dedication to Starlight's programs. I'll never forget one mother telling me at an event that it was amazing for her to see her husband enjoying their children and just getting to be a dad. Great Escapes gives the gift of time spent together as a family away from the hospitals.

2012-10-19 13:53:46 UTC

After having witnessed my first Great Escape two weeks ago, I was able to see first hand how special Starlight's programs are to the families that we serve. Great Escapes help families relieve the emotional, social and financial strain of having a sick child by allowing them to be a part of a special community and literally escape from the stress of being sick.

Getting help with the website will make Starlight's services easily accessible to more families and will allow perspective donors to easily give to Starlight's wonderful cause. Starlight Midwest is a great candidate for this program.

2012-10-19 15:12:21 UTC

In a class I was taking recently, a Pediatric PT was telling us students about how parents may carry just as much burden of illness as the child. I remember that lesson sticking with me, and then seeing it first-hand at Great Escapes. Parents able to watch their kids simply act as kids, and not a "sick" child is nothing short of a miracle. At Great Escapes, the focus is put on the family, and more importantly, their interaction together. This unique approach produces magnificent results. It is just amazing to watch the parents beam just as brightly as the children. Siblings interact and find friends they instantly connect with. And the children are free (even for just a few hours) of the burden of poor health. What happens at Great Escapes wouldn't be possible without the incredible staff at Starlight Midwest. Give them the opportunity to spread their word through their website, and their spirit of family and community will only continue to grow!

2012-10-19 16:23:38 UTC

From my schooling to my time working in a hospital I've learned about the struggles families go through when a child is diagnosed with an illnes. Many do not intially think of all of the complications that come with a diagnosis-everything from strain on the parents, isolation felt by siblings, limited resources, etc. Starlight is unlike any other organization in which it really improves the quality of life of the child that is diagnosed as well as the family.

I've seen first hand the joy that Starlight brings to families. Starlight offers distractions, opportunities for quality family time, and networking. When the Starlight families are all together there is no "different"-everyone feels accepted and welcomed.

Our Mission

Since 1986, Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest has helped chronically and critically ill children—and their families—lead happier and healthier lives. We replace pain, fear, and isolation with hope, joy, and a sense of belonging by providing education, therapeutic entertainment, and family activities.