“My team finished in 23:30 minutes — under budget,” Mary Helen Franze, the Founder and Executive Director of YEA Corps, said. “They totally nailed it. I got pie in the sky. There was not one thing I didn’t get.”
Franze and her organization, YEA Corps was one of the twelve lucky Minnesota nonprofits who won a new website during this year’s Overnight Website Challenge. On the morning of February 28th, 2009 Franze was teamed up with The Mighty Polymorphin Power Rangers: Extra Awesome to build the YEA Corps website from scratch.
There was nothing to redesign, no content to plan around, YEA Corps was starting fresh. In fact, it was only a matter of months since the nonprofit started. “Building a nonprofit from scratch at the speed of light in three months is really quite amazing,” Franze said.
Franze chalks it up to cosmic synergy
Finally starting the nonprofit after years of research, electing a board, and getting chosen for the web challenge, all synergy. “The credibility of the judges and the professionalism of the people at Sierra Bravo really was, to me, the world saying, ‘yes, this is it.'”
With a background in business and marketing, Franze fully understood the importance a good website would have in her brand-new nonprofit. She also knew that quality might come at a high price.
“A first impression is a lasting impression,” Franze said. “Getting a professional website free just brought me to my knees.”
Franze described her experience at the web challenge as both trying and fun. “I have honestly never had so much information come into my head in a twenty-four hour period,” she said. “I can’t say enough about these people I worked with. Most of the guys on my team were Sierra Bravo people, and they kept telling me that this doesn’t end today. ‘We’re going to help you.’ I might be the webmaster, but they’re going to be my help desk.”
David Simmer, one of the non-Sierra Bravo volunteers on Franze’s team, designed card and letterhead for YEA Corps. “He did all this design work pro-bono,” she said. “We’re so set now, I don’t even know what we’re going to do.”
What they’re going to do is empower youth to implement their ideas through community connections for job preparation by offering youth an entrepreneurial experience through projects they conceive and image providing framework, material, and training to execute youth-generated enterprises.
Franze who is excited to get the ball rolling with her new website and nonprofit is just as excited by her whole Overnight Web Challenge experience.
“I can’t say enough about the fact that Sierra Bravo has identified a need in the community that most people don’t recognize,” she said. “Most nonprofits are just working hard to get their pennies in, they don’t think about the ROI of a website because they can’t. That you [Sierra Bravo] have given this gift of a website, is beyond the call of duty of any tech company. It’s going to create more movements than you know and trickle down to the good of society.”
“Plus,” she said, “You were fun every step of the way and so professional.”