Sprouting Leaders

By: Nikki Kothari

A cursory glance at the current Sprouting Leaders website reflects a grassroots organization built from the ground up. Based in Pilsen, Sprouting Leaders is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to academic growth in Chicago’s disadvantaged communities. Their name comes from their mission statement: “Sprouting leaders within our communities. One seed at a time.” The organization hopes to transform youth into leaders through mentorship, education, and service.

Since the year 2012, Sprouting Leaders has volunteered 4556 hours and mentored 186 students. Between teaching students , they haven’t had time to update their website infrastructure. That’s why Sprouting Leaders has partnered with TechTeam.

The website already seems competent. It has information on the company, how to get involved, donation tabs, and is clearly updated often. However, its infrastructure is lacking.

The TechTeam project group, led by third-year, computer science major Julia Oran, is working towards a couple overreaching goals and improvements. By the end of winter quarter, they hope to make the sprouting leaders website bilingual for Spanish students and update the existing pages.

TechTeam’s main concern is sustainability. Although the project will come to an end, the results will be impactful and lasting. The project group considers the client’s capability for maintenance in each calculated change, and it is evident they are succeeding.

The current website was created on Wordpress. Wordpress offers a large variety of applications and plug ins which makes it difficult to find the best one for a project. The team is struggling to find a fitting application to convert the website from English to Spanish.

The team is considering options from different plug ins to hard coding. The goal is to make the website more accessible. Since most students working with Sprouting Leaders come from disadvantaged areas, it will greatly increase outreach along with a push for increased and integrated social media.

In addition, the events, news, and donations pages will be getting complete makeovers. The events will be linked to useful information, perhaps a calendar. The news page will host new blog posts and a revamped layout. Donations will be interactive to encourage greater amounts.

As the project continues, the current website has been left up as a placeholder. The team plans on releasing the website all at once.

In order to finish the project, the team is pulling together. Attendance has been consistent which is incredibly important for the continuity of a project and completing it on time. Julia praised “I got lucky with a really great team!”

She hopes to leave Sprouting Leaders with an end result that is helpful to their organization. The thought process that went into the design, accessibility, and straightforward attitude will result in a website that is not as technical, but ideal for clients without previous experience.