The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2015, May 2-3


Each community has its own cultural footprint. For more than 35 years, NAJWA Dance Corps (NDC) has been part of the unique cultural footprint of Chicago’s West Side.

NDC is a company of professional dancers and musicians dedicated to the preservation of dance styles and techniques reflective of the dance heritage, culture and experience of African-Americans and the African diaspora. NDC performs dance within, and from, a historical context and perspective that is educational, entertaining, and affordable. NDC’s current season includes 25 performances presented in a range of venues throughout Chicago and the Midwest, with the Dance Corps entertaining more than 8,000 patrons at these artistic events.

Most important, NDC remains connected and accessible to the West Side community. NDC is deeply rooted in and reflective of these communities, which include Austin, Lawndale, Garfield Park, and West Haven. Unfortunately, these communities have limited access to financial resources, economic opportunity, and little to no access to culturally artistic activities like the performance arts. In Austin, says, 34 percent of the community lives below the poverty level. In Lawndale, the percentage increases to 49.4 percent. Since 1990, NDC has filled a void by providing high-quality arts programming to residents in these communities.

NDC is a Chicago Park District (CPD) Arts Partner in Residence at the Garfield Park “Golden Dome,” where it operates its Cultural Empowerment Through Dance Program (CETD). The CETD program’s goal is to provide formal instruction through studio-based classes in a culturally sensitive environment. NDC’s Arts Partnership with CPD enhances the quality of life for East Garfield community residents by creating participatory and culture-specific performance arts opportunities for an area where arts organizations and cultural institutions are not as easily accessible.

NDC programs impact hundreds of students and thousands of local residents. In the past year, NDC has served more than 600 students as part of the CETD program. NDC’s youth programming includes programs for boys and girls, and specifically encourages young children’s participation to help them avoid the violence of the streets.

Students that have participated in NDC’s projects and programs have gone on to become dance instructors, attended college through dance scholarships, and held positions as dance assistants, while others have become professional dancers, dance directors, dance therapists, and physical therapists.

NDC is resilient in both its longevity and its people.

The Dance Corps has existed more than 35 years, as an Artist in Residence at Malcolm X College for the past 24 years where the Company has continuously produced high quality arts programming. Three of its Board Members were born and raised on Chicago’s West Side, and its current directors and staff have worked in West Side communities while promoting dance for more than 90 years combined.

What new functionality we are looking for

NAJWA Dance Corps (NDC) is restructuring, re-positioning and re-branding the organization and needs to update and redesign its website.

Our Website should be a one-stop-shop physical information center that is uncluttered, easy to navigate, simple, inexpensive to maintain and inviting. NDC wishes its website to make a good first impression.

We're looking for a new website that allows visitors to the site access to any pertinent information related to performances, classes and registration, calendar of upcoming events, photo and video gallery, concert information, ticket sales, donations, and merchandise purchases i.e T-shirts, etc..

Our website should be informative for both prospective and current donors as well as beneficiaries and funders and:

• Have the logo prominently displayed

• Website is mobile responsive - looks good on smartphones and tablets

• CMS System software which will allow a non programmer to update and manage content at a NDC website which will allow the user to log in and then add, edit or remove content without special technical skills

• Provide clear and interesting information about NDC that will motivate attendance at concerts, performances and classes

• Have a secure payment system with minimal fees to accept online donations.*Being able to link directly to event purchases

• Program and event registration integrated with payment system

• Social media links. (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)

• Links to partners (i.e. Chicago Park District, Malcolm X College)

• Ability to include videos excerpts from performances

• E-commerce – Online sales operation to take online orders and process credit cards or other types of payment.

• Email – a list of email addresses of people who have expressed an interest in receiving emails from NDC.

• Calendar that enables adding and editing events into a searchable calendar at NDC’s site

• DONATE Button on each page

How the new functionality will help

Our current Website is difficult to update and maintain. The original Website was designed using one of the earliest versions of Dream Weaver which none of the staff knew how to use. For years the Website stood idle, with some of the staff just saying that NDC did not have a website. This situation did not change until a volunteer took classes and self-educated himself and learned how to add, edit and change content on the Website. During this period our capacity to reach out to our constituents was eroded. A new Website will allow us to quickly reach our constituents with news of our upcoming events, receive request for bookings, receive requests for educational arts programming from the Chicago Public Schools, offer a quick and secure way for registration and payment of studio classes, ticket sales and set a positive tone.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

35 Messages from Supporters

2015-02-26 01:33:34 UTC
Brenda (Malika) Moore

A new and improved website will heighten our visibility and allow us to reach our students and patrons to see our performances. Najwa Dance Corps offers high quality arts programming that is vitally significant to the community it serves and worthy of national and international merit. Thus, an improved website will help us to reach our fans, as well as, others and make our art accessible to audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

2015-02-26 23:41:05 UTC
Regina Taitts

I have been a part of Najwa Dance Corps since 1971, I was 18 years old. Upon seeing their concert, I was immediately hooked. Najwa dance Corps was my first African dance experience which enabled me to farther teach and inspire others for over 25 years. My point is, Najwa has been working and aiding the community for more than 44 years and their work is far from over. The company is nationally known as well as internationally known. This website will only help them to continue the very hard work they do for all those involved and for those who could really use their expertise. I sincerely hope that Najwa Dance Corps receives this great offer!

2015-02-27 00:40:19 UTC
David Hill

The Najwa Dance Corps has proven to be one of the best of its kind in the entire country year in and year out. I've seen live dance performances around the globe and very, very few other dance companies create the excitement and emotional inspiration of this company in action. Above and beyond the inspired performances is the incredible positive effect they have had on their community that has been so valuable. It is a shame that they are not as well known and celebrated as they deserve and any image and brand building vehicle, such as a very well done website, would be a blessing for them. They deserve this recognition!

2015-02-27 01:22:35 UTC
Barbara Kensey

I've known the Najwa Dance Corps almost since its inception. It is an extremely valuable cultural resource, particularly important to the west side communities it serves. It does such a fine job of educating the community and others about the heritage and culture of African descent people through music and dance. It also provides youth with an outlet for their creativity and something positive to focus their attention on. For this reason alone - and there are many - there should be continued support for the work of the Najwa Dance Corps.

2015-02-27 12:01:24 UTC
La Quietta Joy Hardy Campbell, Chairman of the Board

" The first African Dance I learned from NAJWA Dance Corps (NDC) was Funga. I was intrigued by the telling of a story and communicating only through movement. The beauty of the intricate hand movements, the sensuous rhythm of the drums, the colorful and exotic costumes- it was the beginning of a love affair that has lasted over 40 years." LaQuietta~

A new Website will assist NDC in fulfilling its mission in a number of ways: It will provide instant visual presentation of excerpts of our performances and will always be available to anyone with internet access.  It will be an extremely cost effective way to advertise workshops, classes, performances and concerts on the Website as it is available 24/7/365. A new NDC website will bring benefits like better involvement from supporters and donors, increased visibility and awareness, increased donations, and improved promotion for upcoming events. The Website will be key in enhancing NDC's impact.

2015-02-27 14:09:36 UTC
Andrea Najwii

A proper, up-to-date and proficient website will enable Najwa Dance Corps to compete on a larger platform. We will become visible to a whole new audience. The website will enhance our marketing endeavors. NDC has been in existence for over 35 years providing quality performances, programs, residencies and classes. This website will ensure that NDC has a seat at the table of technology. A new website will also benefit NDC by taking them to another level of their existence.

2015-02-27 18:55:08 UTC
J. Perkins

Najwa Dane Corps reaches youth on Chicago's Westside who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience quality dance classes - ranging from hip-hop,and tap to ballet and African dance. The organization is deserving and worthy of this opportunity to fortify it's footprint for all to see, with a website that engages the public and meets its institutional needs.

2015-02-28 14:21:55 UTC

Najwa Dance Corps always delivers great shows! My younger cousins enjoyed the dance classes at Najwa Dance and still remember that great experience and the dances. Najwa Dance Corp is a great and needed asset to our community.

2015-03-01 03:36:45 UTC
Lori Hardy

Najwa Dance Corps is a leader within our communities. The education learned through dance exemplifies strength, unity and power. Therefore, through the development of a website, communities at large will experience different learning methods through dance.

2015-03-01 18:27:48 UTC

An updated website will accelerate the pace at which Najwa Dance Corps is able to continue to make its unique and invaluable contribution to the community and the city!

2015-03-01 20:01:48 UTC
Donna Walker-Kuhne

Najwa Dance Corps provided me with a cultural anchor and identity that is integral to my sense of self, confidence and self-esteem. I truly appreciate growing up with the company and cultural ethos that Najwa and Julian Swain generously shared with all of the students and dancers. I continue to draw upon that knowledge daily and am determined to instill these cultural principles and legacy with my daughter. Thank you Najwa Dance Corps!

2015-03-01 21:59:03 UTC
T'Keyah Crystal Keymah

I was first introduced to the Najwa Dance Corps (NDC) in high school, when a friend and classmate joined the NDC Junior Corps. The photos of the corps in their beautiful costumes impressed me to no end! I proudly joined the company in 1985, after working with Najwa and many of her dancers in a long running production of ETA's "The Regal Theater." That was such a wonderful experience and I will be forever grateful for the many lessons I learned with NDC. Since leaving Chicago to work in Los Angeles, I have returned as a guest artist and to invite NDC members to perform with me. I hope to continue collaborating with NDC whenever possible, for the rest of my career.

With classes for young students, NDC offers a safe harbor and a productive use of time while gaining self esteem and a healthy skill; For aspiring performers, NDC provides valuable, professional training, and a productive, life and career path infused with motherly mentorship; For the Black / African community NDC is a greatly needed source of information and pride; With history lessons spectacularly told through music and dance, NDC creates highly entertaining shows for the greater community.

A new website would give the Najwa Dance Corps a better avenue to reach the community it serves, and to be an even brighter beacon of cultural enrichment for Chicago and beyond!

2015-03-01 22:15:56 UTC

Najwa Dance Corps in one of the longest standing companies of it's kind in the city of Chicago. They have shared/provided to the community quality training not only for the body but also the mind and soul. As a professional artist, I attest, the company is on the top of my list when recommending future dancers for training or show goers for an evening of excitement in a family environment via dance, music and education. They are a community focused group that changes lives, A company I refer to as "someone you should know."

2015-03-02 13:28:41 UTC
Betty Collins

My personal testimonial of why I think a new website would benefit the Najwa Dance Corps is because this dance troupe has benefitted the Westside community with their dancers and musicians for many years, bringing African American culture to adults and to our youth.
The Najwa Dance group came to my place of employment, Marillac House St. Vincent Center, on the Westside of Chicago, where I have been employed for 40 years. They entertained and performed before over 200 of our students, parents, and neighboring residents. Our new Community Center was packed with standing room only. The show was one that I have never experienced before – such unique art and African garb! All who I spoke to really enjoyed the dance troupe with their very entertaining moves and gyrations. We definitely look forward to seeing the group again very soon and welcome them with open arms.
I feel the Najwa Dance Corps should be awarded the Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, a new website, in order to be exposed even more to inform others why they should attend this marvelous show. It would not only teach of the African American culture, but give pleasure, enjoyment and inspire, as well. The group is fantastic. More website exposure would allow other educational institutions and communities to learn more about the Najwa Dance Corps and welcome them into their institutions and organizations.

2015-03-02 14:58:43 UTC
Rita Bailey

A new and improved website for Najwa Dance Corps would keep everyone updated to all of the wonderful classes they offer as well as their show dates.

Najwa changed the lives of several of the younger members of my church. Just by seeing the shows, these young men and women gained self confidence; families got closer by attending the shows together; face-to-face conversations improved among friends and families and some of the kids even came back to church trying to emulate the dancers in their own praise renditions. Seeing Najwa up close is a wonderful experience.

2015-03-16 23:18:48 UTC
Brenda Starr Woods

Najwa Dance Corps preserves the cultural heritage of the African American Dance experience. It is a necessary program that not only entertains but teaches historical facts through dance. The new website would help to bring this relevant program to a broader audience. I have worked with and continue to support this viable organization.

2015-03-16 23:54:27 UTC
Linda Perry

Najwai Dance Corps touches the lives in many in the community. The enhanced website will further it’s reach so that Najwai Dance Corps will be able to have a greater cultural impact. Social media is powerful and this will allow Najwai Dance Corps to have a platform that will help them increase their customer relations and inspire love in the art of African American dance in all that it reaches.

2015-03-17 13:30:57 UTC

Najwa Dance Corps is and has been a very revelent force in this community for many years. They help to perserve our culture, encourage young people to aspire to greatness, provide cultural educational entertainment. They are much loved by this community, this web site would benefit them as well as this community greatly.

2015-03-19 13:14:48 UTC
Rasheedah Mujtabaa

Najwa Dance Corps gives great cultural enlightenment! For young & old, the community has the opportunity to enjoy the dance classes & proformances at Najwa Dance Corp, the shows leaves you with a wounderful great experience of a forgotten & almost lost history; and Najwa Dance Corp is a great and much needed value to our community.

2015-03-20 19:59:59 UTC
Nancy Ptak

NAJWA Dance Corps is such an exceptional arts organization in their own right that they truly deserve this invaluable opportunity to win The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge. Winning this challenge would allow NDC to expand their reach and engage visitors to participate in the various opportunities they have to offer.

The company would greatly benefit from an updated website that represents who they are and what they do (i.e., performances, classes and registrations, calendar of upcoming events, photo and video gallery, concert information and ticket sales, and testimonials). Therefore they require a responsive web design that will significantly enhance the sites accessibility to both mobile and tablet users. This would create ease of use for ticket sales, student registrations and donations made to the NDC site.

2015-03-21 13:48:53 UTC
Heather R. Adams

Najwa Dance Corps has been inspiring the love for performance art for over 30 years. A new website will further help the organization to connect with next generation of dancers and show them that a career in the arts is possible, regardless of your socio-economic or cultural background.

Today, it's almost impossible for an organization to communicate its message without establishing a strong, easy to find, online presence anchored by an interactive website that is both educational and has practical utility in that it can support online ticket sales, online donations, and showcase the organization.

Nerdery, we need your help!

Heather R. Adams

2015-03-21 18:51:46 UTC
Heather R. Adams

I forgot to mention...I'm a proud board member!

2015-03-23 21:31:54 UTC
Sarah Harrod

Najwa Dance Corps (Najwa) is an exceptional organization. I was first introduced to Najwa seven years ago. Their current website does not do this company/organization any justice. Their performances leave you wanting more. You can't wait to receive that email or see a flyer notifying you of the next upcoming performance.

In 2016, everything is being automated, you can schedule, purchase, comment, suggest etc. on websites. Najwa is in need of a website update. Not to mention the website should reflect their performances. Winning The Nerdery Challenge would greatly benefit Najwa Dance Corps.

Supporter of Najwa Dance Corps.
Sarah Harrod

2015-03-24 21:48:42 UTC
Rhonda Stvers

NAJWA Dance Corps is a Chicago institution. I was involved with NAJWA in the early 80's only to return recently and the company and its leadership has the same enthusiasm, professionalism,nand commitment to the community they serve.
With your help Nerdery we can attract more people to the website and immediately make a decision on if it's a place they're going to spend time (and money) at.
First impressions do count and a professional website design will most definitely leave a better first impression.
NAJWA is in desperate need of an interactive, dynamic web presence that reflects our spirit.
Rhonda Stivers, Board Member

2015-03-26 23:57:02 UTC
Ray Hardy

NAJWA Dance Corps is AWESOME. What better way to reach out to our younger generation and teaching them about our African American culture through music and dance. I remember seeing my first performance with NAJWA Dance Corps it was an incredible show from colorful costumes to the beat of African drums. I truly believe creating NAJWA website will continue to condition the mind, body, and spirit reaching out to surrounding communities and communities around to world.

2015-03-29 10:31:38 UTC

Civilizations and cultures have been lost forever and facts about some have been misinterpreted or lost forever because all those individuals that knew have died and the knowledge die with them. It is so important to be able to past history and culture to as broad an audience as possible so they can take advantage of the learning opportunity. An improved updated website will allow Najwa Dance Corps to offer their unique, diverse and spectacular educational to offerings to worldwide audience. Also increasing their visibility will afford them a broader audience for financial support for the important work they do. This professional dance company needs a high quality website comparable to the quality of dance performance, entertainment and education they provide.

2015-04-01 22:06:30 UTC

Najwa Dance Corp(NDC)deserves a new website!

NDC is an iconic dance company in the community, and this community would greatly benefit from an updated, engaging and professionally done website.

Furthermore, NDC is on the precipice of growth with an expanding Board, talented performers and an eager audience that awaits each of the company's great performances.

A new website would assist all the company's parties (Board, performers and audience)in remaining connected and aware of all things "NDC"!

2015-04-01 20:32:40 UTC

If any company is deserving of NERDERY assistance for an improved update website, hands down, NAJWA DANCE CORPS is! This dance troupe, with its many years of rich experience, is a Chicago cultural mainstay in African American Dance. So many of us (children, teens, adults and seniors) have all benefitted from training or from enjoying countless performances. Please assist this company with a new quality website befitting the outstanding artistic work and educational programs they provide for our community. A website is the first opportunity a company has to make a great first impression. Thus, I am already excited to see the WOW factor of the new website that NERDERY will provide and design for Najwa Dance Corps!

A Loyal Friend and Fan,

2015-04-01 21:22:48 UTC

A new and updated website would be invaluable for NAJWA Dance Corps as it would afford us the opportunity to attract and increase our donor base thereby increasing on-line contributions, volunteers and program participants. Creating a one-stop-shop physical information center that will provide easy navigation would allow NDC to build brand awareness, amplify proficiency with search engine optimization and effectively incorporate social media. An interactive, informative website would endorse NDC’s fundamental objective to offer and provide high quality arts programming and to make art accessible to audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

2015-04-02 00:41:03 UTC
Ethel Mcbroom-Najwa Board Member

A Website for NDC would give us an opportunity to better communicate with the community as well as receive comments and suggestions.The website would also give us an opportunity to post upcoming performances.This award would be very beneficial to the Najwa Dance corp.

2015-04-08 02:44:39 UTC
Anita McClure - Najwa Dance Corp Board Member

Najwa Dance Corp(NDC) deserves a new website!

NDC is an iconic dance company in the community, and this community would greatly benefit from an updated, engaging and professionally done website.

Furthermore, NDC is on the precipice of growth with an expanding Board, talented performers and an eager audience that awaits each of the company's great performances.

A new website would assist all the company's parties (Board, performers and audience)in remaining connected and aware of all things "NDC"!

2015-04-10 03:02:04 UTC
Sharonda Shae Underwood

Najwa Dance Corps is growing and challenging the nation to explore the history of dance through its company. They definitely deserve the opportunity to do so on all levels. The way the world works today, the Internet is the source of everything. Introducing audiences to a company with a strong history, versatile style, and God given talent via the world Web Web will lead to the betterment of people of all cultures. I am supportive, in love, and forever a fan of this wonderful company.

2015-04-11 21:18:31 UTC
Najwa Davis Dobrez

Najwa Dance Corps is a wonderful company
That has a lot to offer to the community. I've been apart of the company all my life. My family is apart of Najwa Dance Corp including my mother Vella Davis-Pearce, she is one of the original members of the company. Several members of our family have been involved in the company from support staff to performing artists. This company deserves and needs exposure we have so much to offer, historically and culturally.

2015-04-12 18:54:43 UTC
Kevin Vinson

Najwa Dance Corps has been very instrumental in the lives of many young people developing in the Art of dance. I have followed the company for over 30 years! I believe this opportunity will benefit the organization and its participants greatly.

2015-04-13 06:22:34 UTC

As a member of Najwa Dance Corps,the awareness of challenges are always a subject that pleads attention. The company has continued to thrive and grow over the years getting what was needed , allowing us to stay in the public eye , state to state, and across the waters.
Everything needs repairs and up-dates. WE ARE STILL HERE. Our strength and lifeline in dance depends on what Nerdery is offering, A NEW WEBSITE. Our public needs improved access. People want to be in the know. Appealing to you as a artist who wants to see growth and success, I assure you with this opportunity, NAJWA DANCE CORPS will continue to astound you and educate you with the culture of dance and history that we give with honor unconditionally.

Our Mission

NDC’s mission is to operate a professional dance company devoted to the performance, production and preservation of dance styles and techniques reflective of the African American dance heritage and experience; to offer and provide high quality arts programming; and, to make art accessible to audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds.