The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Phoenix 2017, January 21-22

Art Odyssey Arizona

Paired with AKOS

Art Odyssey Arizona began as an idea developed over lunch on a spring day in 2012 by Geneva Haber and Leslie Lewis, two Phoenix Art Museum docents, and the current co-directors of Art Odyssey Arizona. We both had high regard for Art Masterpiece, an art enrichment school program that our children had benefitted from, but we became aware, through our work at the Phoenix Art Museum, that not every elementary school offered this program. Since Art Masterpiece programs rely on parent/community volunteers and are funded by parent associations, they are effectively absent from Title I (low-income) schools, where volunteer participation rates of parents, as well as resources, are lacking. Our idea was simply to engage volunteers to bring art appreciation and explorations to students that do not have access to such programs - thus Art Odyssey Arizona was born. We were incorporated on January 22, 2014 and received our 501(c)(3) status on November 23, 2015.

Study after study shows that art is a critical educational component for all children. However art programs are all too often cut from school programs. According to research done by the National Endowment of the Arts “At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school ... tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement... The study reports these and other positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status.” (

Based on this and similar studies, Art Odyssey Arizona is committed to providing art educational experiences to underserved youth in Arizona. Trained adult volunteers visit K-6th grade students in their classrooms and present a 45 minute to one hour lesson using an art reproduction as the basis for learning. Volunteers facilitate close looking, student expression of ideas and hands-on opportunities. Observational, analytical, and critical reasoning skills are fostered in exploring art in this manner. All materials and supplies are provided. Currently, we have twelve volunteers that serve 19 classes (approximately 400 students) in low-income schools.

Art Odyssey Arizona has two sessions annually - a fall session and a spring session. For our fall session this year, we are in nine classes and we project being in ten classes during our 2017 spring session. We visit each classroom four times over the course of each session (generally once a month). Each of our four lesson packages have a different theme; for example for our first graders at Palomino Primary School this year, our theme is “Places and Spaces,” and the artwork reproductions we explore are of various places - a Mexican kitchen, a small country village in France, New York City, and a wild and colorful flower garden. During a typical lesson, the children will explore the artwork and will use their imaginations to “visit” the place in the artwork. Volunteers use our prepared lesson plans to guide the children through the art explorations. The lesson plans list questions to ask the children that encourage the students to engage in close looking at the artwork, to come up with ideas and opinions, and to defend their responses. Our program works in accordance with Arizona College and Career Ready Standards; specifically observational, critical reasoning, and public speaking standards are explicitly developed. Furthermore, art concepts and information are integrated into the lesson. After the exploration concludes (generally these take between 20-30 minutes for the younger students and up to 40 minutes with older students), the students create their own artwork that reinforces the lessons learned in the exploration. As can be imagined, this is the highlight of the experience for many of the students. They take such pride in creating their own masterworks to bring home and enjoy. Many of the students do not have art supplies at home, and in almost all of our schools, the children have little time for creative and imaginative activities, as the schools are considered underperforming, requiring extensive testing and test preparation during class time. When we first visit a classroom, the children are shy and a bit unsure, but after the first visit, we are always greeted with cheers and hugs.

What new functionality we are looking for

(1) A mobile friendly web presence that allows for:*

Colorful, welcoming home page of student artwork and volunteers in the classroom

Resources for Kids

Online Art Gallery with protected access - an opportunity for students and their caregivers, friends, and family members to see the students’ artwork on display

Fun interactive activities

Resource links

Art activity ideas

Front-page access to:

About Us - Mission Statement, board and staff information

How to bring Art Odyssey to your school - program information and curriculum options

Resources for teachers - lesson plan extensions, additional activities, and art projects

How to volunteer

Donor pages - easy to use, secure donation system

Wish list page of in-kind donation options

Contact us


Back-page, password protected access to:

Interactive calendar with volunteer schedule and sign-up capability

Lesson plans, art project plans, and supply lists to be used by volunteers in classrooms

Library of support materials such as research on artists, art activity ideas, and links to online art resources

Administrative materials such as school maps, background check requirements for schools, volunteer manual, and volunteer training materials

Supply and reimbursement request forms

Email system

(2) A fun “artsy” Logo

(3) Training for Art Odyssey Arizona staff to manage interactive technology

*Obviously, we would not be able to have all of the above information added onto a website in 24 hours, but we would love to have a website structure in place that would allow us to add more information, resources, and content over time.

How the new functionality will help

Our mission is to bring art enrichment to as many low-income students in Arizona as possible. At this time, there is far more of a demand for our services than we can provide, due to our limited number of trained volunteers, administrative constraints involved in managing the wonderful volunteers we do have, and funding limitations. This new functionality will allow us to increase volunteer numbers, dramatically boost efficiency in managing our volunteers, and help us with fundraising. Furthermore, the new functionality will allow us to provide art enrichment resources to teachers and to low-income children in Arizona, allowing all students across our state to benefit from Art Odyssey Arizona.

A new website will allow us to easily deliver training dates and information, training materials, and background check information and requirements to our new volunteers. Furthermore, the new site would provide an easy way in which potential volunteers would see what Art Odyssey Arizona has to offer for volunteers.

Having a central location for electronic storage of organizational resources, such as lesson plans, scheduling information, etc., will streamline our operations, allowing us to serve more students. We will be able to communicate more effectively with volunteers and anticipate our needs for growth. Volunteers will be empowered and feel greater ownership of their work, motivating them to continue serving students. Additionally, volunteers will be able to research artists and other relevant information, practice lesson plans, and ask questions to clarify uncertainties prior to visiting students. This will increase the quality of the lessons we are presenting.

As with most nonprofits, funds are always an issue for Art Odyssey Arizona. We have received community support through in-kind art supply donations, but have largely been self-funded to date. Expanding Art Odyssey to serve more children in schools and organizations serving low-income families will require added volunteer recruitment and training, additional supplies, and increased insurance and administrative costs. Having the ability to receive online donations will greatly increase our fundraising potential.

Finally, having a location for children and teachers to gain access to lesson plan extensions, art resource information, and fun games and activities would be invaluable to low-income children in Arizona who face so many obstacles and challenges each and every day.

How our organization will use the technology

The primary way in which this new technology will impact day to day operations for Art Odyssey Arizona is in volunteer management and recruitment. We will use the new website for our scheduling, as well as to provide necessary lesson plans and materials to our volunteers. The website will also make our communications with teachers much more efficient.

Who will use the technology

Staff, volunteers, and board members will all use our new functionality. Ideally, we will have a password protected back-page for use by our staff and volunteers. As explained above, our staff and volunteers will use this back-page to increase efficiency. This will dramatically decrease the time we spend on administrative tasks, which will make life easier for staff and volunteers alike, as well as allowing us to provide our services to more Arizona children. Furthermore, our board members can keep up with all that is going on with Art Odyssey Arizona. This will make our board meetings more efficient and productive.

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_phx2017-art-before-new Thumbnail_phxowc2017-art-after

12 Messages from Supporters

2016-12-04 05:32:04 UTC
Laura Schwartz

Grant ART ODYSSEY the support of a Nerdy team! Art Odyssey will make great use of the overnight-website to reach donors and volunteers plus manage their programs efficiently. Art Odyssey is committed to helping Title 1 school children through art experiences and poised to grow with the help of technology. You will be proud to have supported this team of dedicated educators. The world needs more art and ... technology!

2016-12-04 17:58:02 UTC
Diane Gruber

Art Odyssey is a terrific non-profit that is bringing art education into schools that have often lost that curriculum due to budget and volunteer restraints. The program gives kids the opportunity to explore one of the most important activities for imaginative and creative thinking. Children in better funded schools receive this training as a matter of course; Art Odyssey believes EVERY child deserves these opportunities.

Art Odyssey has doubled its programming, volunteer base, and donors in the short 2 years in which it's been in existence. This has everything to do with the dedication and energy of their founders. They are poised to move to their next level, and your help with the website design would be a key component of that growth.

Please consider choosing them as your overnight-website choice.

Thanks so much!


2016-12-05 02:37:31 UTC
Aimee Gerkin

I am so excited to give my testimonial for Art Odyssey. The incredible people in this organization have given my kindergarten students awesome experiences in art exploration. Currently, I am taking a class in brain-based teaching, and the author, I quote below, added a whole chapter on the importance of art in education in his new edition.
According to Sousa (2011), the skills that the arts develop are creativity,
problem solving, critical thinking, communication, self-direction, initiative,
and collaboration. All these skills-which align with what many educators now
refer to as “21st-century skills” – will be needed by every student in order to
survive successfully as an adult (p. 218).

I teach in a Title I school where many of the students do not have the opportunity to visit an art museum or attend a symphony. I am so privileged to have this incredible organization come in to my classroom, and seven other kindergarten classrooms, to share their knowledge and creativity. Art Odyssey visits are definitely a highlight of our students’ educational experience.

Sousa, D. A. (2011). How the brain learns. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

2016-12-05 02:54:21 UTC
Tami Taylor

I have worked with Art Odyssey for two years and I can honestly say they are one of the best organizations I have ever worked with in my after school program. Their monthly visits to my school are amazing. They are always well organized and bring everything they need to provide the hands on activity in the classroom. Many of my students would not have the opportunity to visit an art museum so their visits bring the museum to them. I am so impressed with the staff and volunteers in this organization. Their professionalism and ability to work with all of my students is impressive. Today's classrooms bring many different learners and they are able to reach all of them. They are a class operation and I am so lucky to work them.

Art Odyssey would be a great fit for your website challenge. With the right tools they are poised to expand their organization, take it to the next level and thus serve more low income students in the Phoenix area.

Tami Taylor
21st Century Community Learning Center Site Coordinator - Echo Mountain Primary and Intermediate Schools

2016-12-05 17:46:42 UTC
Mary Gilmore

This is our first year having Art Odyssey in first grade at Palomino Primary. Since our school is Title I, a lot of these students do not always have the opportunity to be exposed to art as much as some other students in a more affluent area might. Art Odyssey has brought that opportunity to our classroom and my students are absolutely thrilled. They love hearing that Art Odyssey will be joining us on the days they come to visit. The volunteers for Art Odyssey so patiently take the time to introduce the art they have brought for the day and explain all the elements of art present within that piece of artwork. They also create engaging projects based on that artwork that let the kids explore the elements taught that day and also explore their creative side. I am so thankful to have the Art Odyssey program come to our classroom.

Art Odyssey deserves to win this website challenge so they can expand and allow this amazing opportunity to other students! :)

Mary Gilmore
1st grade teacher
Palomino Primary School

2016-12-05 20:48:13 UTC
Ashley Scott

Art Odyssey is a new program to me and was implemented into my classroom this year. It is an amazing program that keeps all students engaged and stimulated. They love when it is an Art Odyssey day. The ladies are easy to work with and come prepared with age appropriate lessons. I would recommend Art Odyssey to any educator!!

:) Ashley Scott
First Grade Teacher

2016-12-05 20:58:16 UTC
Jelena Cooley

I am a docent at the Phoenix Art Museum and have a first hand experience in witnessing how important it is for children to interact with art. It expands critical thinking, it challenges status-quo... it opens up whole new worlds.

Unfortunately, even with the grants we provide, many schools are unable to bring the kids to the museum. This is where Art Odyssey comes in! They bring the art, a sense of wonder, and endless creative possibilities right to the kids' classrooms.
I had many opportunities to work with the Art Odyssey volunteers and they are passionate, dedicated and well-trained. I would love to see the reach of this wonderful organization expand even further thorough a new website that would provide a gathering place for students, volunteers, teachers and community.

Thank you so much,
Jelena Cooley
Phoenix Art Museum Docent

2016-12-06 04:43:12 UTC
Sarah Bodney

Being a Phoenix Art Museum Docent, and now an Art Odyssey volunteer, I can tell you from first hand experience that having the opportunity to explore and discuss art with others is enriching for everyone, young and old. No matter where these children's passions take them in the future, be it into industry, technology, medicine, or the arts, the ability to critically analyze information in front of them, draw inferences from it, and explain what they see to others will be invaluable. And, that is just what the students do with Art Odyssey volunteers. And the fun part is they don't realize the many skills they are developing as they simply explore a work of art. Their enthusiasm for discovery is infectious.

Imagine the children's excitement if they could see their own works of art posted in an online gallery! Imagine the simplification of scheduling if the trained volunteers could simply go on line to a secure page to find lesson plans and sign up for sessions with new schools.

Having your help to create a solid web presence would go a really long way to helping expand the reach of this organization to more underserved children in the valley. Plus, it would be super cool to see you at work!

We are so hoping you will be able to help us.

2016-12-06 17:23:12 UTC
Maureen Ardizzone

My name is Maureen Ardizzone. I am a site coordinator at at Title 1 school in Phoenix. I was first introduced to Art Odyssey last year. After meeting with Geneva Haber and Leslie Lewis I knew that I wanted to bring this program to our school! I was so impressed with their enthusiasm for the program and their
love of art and children. What a great combination!

Art Odyssey is now an integral part of our 21st Century Community Learning Center before school art class. These ladies bring art to life! Art Odyssey is committed to bringing their love of art to underserved youth who do not otherwise have this opportunity. Not all students learn the same way art allows students to express themselves and shine in their own way.

We need to keep programs like this alive for our kids, we need to keep art in our schools! I cannot think of a better organization for the overnight-website choice.

Maureen Ardizzone
21st Century Community Learning Center Site Coordinator - Sunset Canyon Elementary

2016-12-05 20:57:24 UTC
Kathy Rowe

Art Odyssey is an amazing venture to offer very amazing art experiences to very under-served schools in our community! I am currently a board member and am impressed with the quality and dedication of all involved in this program. They are filling a need for children and bringing aesthetics & culture with hands-on experiences and age-appropriate lessons. And, the children love it and look forward to their Art Odyssey days!

Please consider this organization for your over-night website choice!

Kind regards,


2016-12-06 19:23:23 UTC
Mary Elton

This is my second year participating in Art Odyssey as a volunteer and I have loved the experience. As a parent and former teacher, I know the value of art education. I also know that many schools don't have the resources to offer it. Art Odyssey is program that brings the experience of great art to children in Title 1 schools who might not otherwise experience art masterpieces. As a volunteer I see how excited the children get when we come into the classroom with large poster of a painting or sculpture. The children explore the art work by talking about what they see and what they think. Then they have time to make their own art. The best part of the lesson is seeing how successful the children feel about their ideas and their own art creations.

The Art Odyssey staff is dedicated, knowledgeable and great to work. The lessons and materials are exciting, well thought out, and designed to build skills in observation, strategic thinking and creativity. There are many children in the valley who would benefit from Art Odyssey. The program needs to continue to grow and technology can be a great help with that growth. I believe Art Odyssey is an excellent candidate for your website challenge.

2016-12-08 23:05:39 UTC
From the kids we teach

I like creating things -- Alani, 9

You can draw and create new things because you learn about other places -- Ricardo, 10

I like to paint and let secrets out -- Gracie, 9

The pictures have lots of colors; the red dinosaur was interesting to see -- Alex, 10

I liked making the hand because it expressed who I am -- Citlali, 11

I liked to learn about art, especially making a snake out of clay -- Sadie, 10

I liked the clay project and made an ice cream cone -- Fatima, 10

I like Art Odyssey because I like creating things and learning art from other places -- Nancy, 10

We can draw and create -- Saury, 9

I like creative projects and ideas - Rhianna, 10

I like to learn about artists - like designs -- Melody, 9

I like painting, drawing, making new things, learning about other states -- Yoselyn, 9

I like Art Odyssey because you can make neat stuff -- Caleb, 10

Our Mission

Our official mission statement states, “Art Odyssey Arizona is committed to providing art explorations to under-served youth in Arizona.” To expand on this, we strive to meet the needs of low-income students in Arizona by offering a program that provides children with the tools to critically analyze the world around them and formulate their own personal responses. This is achieved by encouraging children to observe and respond to works of art from some of the world’s leading collections and create their own works of art to connect with the curriculum goals.