In spring 2021, Clarity was engaged to build a website for a new program created by the Cook County Communications Department called Project Rainbow. The initiative was created to address the educational gap that existed among Cook County’s early childhood population. COVID-19 had magnified the disparities among different areas of the county relative to the resources (or lack thereof) that local schools could provide.
By this point, Project Rainbow had already been in motion. Other organizations had worked to get the initial concepts off the ground: educational television programming and a mobile application. Once there became a need for a website, Clarity became part of a broader team of partnerships and resources that collectively worked to help bring Project Rainbow to life.
Here, we highlight the how the other partners were involved as well as our part of Project Rainbow’s journey.
The initial media plan of free early childhood TV programming and lessons provided on a mobile application were created by Cook County Teach Corps (CCTC) and University of Chicago’s UChicago Tech (UTC), respectively.
The CCTC teachers connected to the project were purposefully comprised of diverse backgrounds. This was intended to mirror an accurate representation of the early childhood population in Cook County. This group created all of the educational content for the TV programming. Cook County utilized their existing television station to run it Monday – Friday for roughly two hours. A third hour ran in the evenings dedicated to parents working as impromptu homeschool teachers. It provided them with resources for better practices and how to build a curriculum.
Meanwhile, the app was being developed by UTC. UTC is a student-led organization dedicated to supporting community organizations and local government in effecting change through technology. Project Rainbow partnered with local organizations to produce content for the app. Some of these partners included Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Children’s Museum, and Shedd Aquarium. Once complete, the plan was to have curricula on the app that was free to download as well.
By this point, Cook County had also already established the logo, colors, and branding for Project Rainbow.
The County then decided Project Rainbow also needed a website, a supplemental place to house the content found on the mobile application. And Clarity was chosen to build it. This work kicked off in May 2021.
The design stage happened collaboratively with all the existing partners: we used the established branding guidelines to create the look and feel of the website while working with UTC on the User Interface of the mobile application to ensure alignment. The completed design has resulted in multiple awards for the website:
- 2020 W3 Award Silver Winner for Education Website
- 2021 MobileWebAward for Best Education Mobile Application
- 2022 Muse Creative Award Gold Winner for Education Website
- 2022 Communicator Award of Distinction for Education Website
- 2022 Vega Digital Canopus Award for E-Learning
- 2022 WebAward Education Standard of Excellence
- 2022 Horizon Interactive Award Winner for E-Learning Website
Clarity built Project Rainbow’s website using WordPress. We installed a Salient theme that allows for different visual and interactive treatments of content to be placed and reorganized on the page as content is changed, added, or removed. We provided a style guide and content administrator training material for future reference. The website launched in August 2021.
Eventually, Clarity also took over the mobile application build from UTC. We made several design iterations to ensure it would fit on the most types of devices. This would allow it to reach the most amount of people. The mobile application launched shortly after the Project Rainbow website.
Clarity is still providing maintenance and support for Project Rainbow. Several community partners continue to provide resources for the content needed to run this program. The next step is to make the code base available to the public so other organizations can replicate this idea for their respective communities.