GiveBack DC Spotlight

With GiveBack DC well underway, I spent some time chatting with and getting to know the awesome folks at Mentors, Inc., one our hosted nonprofits. Mentors, Inc. is a passionate small nonprofit in downtown DC who pour their hearts into mentoring and helping today’s DC students towards high school graduation and college entry. They have been matched up with Free Range Studios, one of DC’s well-known creative agencies, to rebuild their website and user experience.

Read on to learn more about Mentors, Inc and Free Range’s participation in GiveBack DC.

GiveBack DC Nonprofit: Mentors, Inc.

Deirdre Bagley
Executive Director at Mentors, Inc.

How did you hear about GiveBack DC? 

We’re working with a fundraising consultant who saw the opportunity and thought it would be perfect for us, and us perfect for GiveBack DC. Once we read the description of the project, we were all-in for applying!

What does GiveBack DC mean to your Mentors, Inc.’s success?

The way in which we tell our story impacts how the community responds and supports our mission and the teens we work with. We tell our story through our web site, as the primary way in which people investigate and learn about us when we are not sharing face to face. Having a site that is user friendly and helps our community engage with our program and learn more about our students is huge. We believe a web site more reflective of the work our mentor volunteers do every day, the success of our students, and the opportunities to support the magic that happens between them, is important for the advancement of the cause to help DC teens graduate and have fantastic futures.

How will you plan to utilize your new website, marketing tools and knowledge?

We plan to make our web site a living space connecting our work – our students, mentors, and friends – to the broader community. Meaning that we plan to share more, and hopefully gain more interaction with our supporters and friends through the site. This is very exciting!

How is it working with the FreeRangers so far?

Free Range raised our own expectations from the first meeting. Each team member is creative, inspirational, smart, forward thinking, and they believe in what we do as individuals and professionals. We feel we speak the same language and that they have our success in mind as they build and design. Had Free Range not been paired with us, we would have chosen them.

GiveBack DC Agency: Free Range Studios


Kelsey Livingston, Project Manager

Why is Free Range taking part in GiveBack DC?

Free Range was founded to accelerate the impact of organizations that are out to change the world; over the years we’ve donated thousands of hours of our time to organizations with exciting missions but small or non-existent budgets. GiveBack DC is a great way for us to efficiently support an amazing non-profit!

Tell us about the nonprofit you are working with.

At least two of the Free Rangers in our project kickoff teared up during that first conversation — Mentors, Inc is so inspiring. They are small but mighty, and they truly change the lives of the kids and mentors they work with. Last year every single student who was mentored not only graduated from high school but went to college too. This is amazing success in a city where a mere half of our public school students graduate and less than 30% go to college. And they are a staff of three people!

What is your strategy to work with Mentors, Inc. and launch a new website in such a short amount of time?

We’re incredibly lucky because so far the Mentors, Inc team has made really fast decisions — they clearly already have a lot of alignment about what they want, what they like, and what they don’t like. So we’d crossed our fingers for a flexible, efficient partner and we lucked out! Internally, we’re concepting and iterating rapidly and trying to really perfect our deliverables as much as possible before Mentors, Inc sees them so that changes are minimal and quick. We’ve also made sure that the whole team including our developer is engaged from the beginning — we’re all collaborating across our disciplines to try to make one another’s jobs easier down the line. It’s really fun to collaborate this way under such a tight deadline.

Care to share any secret tricks you may have up your sleeve for blowing the other agencies out of the water?

What!? We’re in this for the glory of launching a new website for Mentors, Inc, not to show up the other agencies! But we should reveal that we have a couple of photographers on staff and we’re hoping to capture some great photo content for Mentors, Inc to use on the new site.

WordPress, Drupal or neither?

ExpressionEngine all the way. We do work in WP and Drupal all the time but for an easy-to-use, straightforward CMS we build on ExpressionEngine.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with GBDC and Mentors, Inc. so far?

We are having a blast. Thanks so much for including us!

Be sure to reserve your ticket for October 8th’s GiveBack DC Closing Party to celebrate the efforts of our teams and amazing nonprofits! See you at 1776 in DC!

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