Roots & Shoots Website Wins Gold Award


October, 2020 – Roots & Shoots USA and Taoti Creative, a DC-based full-service creative agency,  have won the Gold W3 Award in the nonprofit website category after the launch of the new  The W3 Awards illuminate creative excellence on the web and is the leading digital competition that recognizes companies of all sizes. The award-winning Roots & Shoots website features incredibly immersive pages and a completely custom user journey based on the needs of the young changemakers, educators, parents, mentors, and people of all ages inspired by Dr. Goodall’s vision that every individual can make a difference. 

The website combines accessibility with engaging features to grow action and connection between individuals creating impactful community projects across the U.S., and around the world.  

Roots & Shoots, a global youth empowerment program of the Jane Goodall Institute, which turns 30 in 2021, develops compassionate changemakers in all 50 states and over 65 countries worldwide. The program was born in response to Dr. Goodall’s realization that young people feel hopeless and apathetic in the face of local and global challenges and crises. As a solution, Roots & Shoots supports young people in growing a sense of hope and agency, connections to other youth across identities, and ways to create positive impacts through community service projects and actions. To design the site, supported by the Fund II Foundation, it was essential to capture this spirit of hope, connection, and simple, effective ways for young people to take action improving their communities for people, other animals, and the environment.   

“I do have reasons for hope…Above all, the commitment of young people when they’re empowered to take action.”   

– Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace  

In 2019, following extensive engagement with agencies lending expertise in market research, messaging, and branding with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, JGI worked with Taoti to redesign the Roots & Shoots website to seamlessly engage and educate, with a design as bright and colorful as we believe the future can be. Utilizing more streamlined visuals and stronger methods of storytelling, the website reflects the Roots & Shoots program itself, as a place where everyone feels welcome.  

At the heart of Roots & Shoots are projects and groups that create impact and grow connections. To represent this digitally, anyone can sign up to become a member for free to create their own personal profile, projects, and groups. TheProjects page gives individuals the chance to explore and search Roots & Shoots projects by age, group type, and status. One of the newest, most dynamic ways for a user to find what they’re looking for is through the Projects page’s interactive map, which demonstrates to users their place in a massive worldwide network of Roots & Shoots. It also includes a search by theme option including things like Animals; Biodiversity Loss; Climate Change; Education & Literacy; Equity, Equality, & Inclusion; Peace & Hope; and Responsible Consumption. To support the creation of these projects, our 4-Step Formula has its own home of interactive pagesto guide users from ideation, exploration, implementation, and celebration of their impactful community-action projects.   

Another key feature of the website redesign was the reimagining of Groups so that users could find or create a like-minded group with a cause that suits their age level and location. The Groups page allows people to share multiple projects and connect to others in their area or elsewhere. Like the Projects page, one of the most engaging ways of finding the right fit is through the Groups page’s interactive map. Thanks to this functionality, youth are creating and joining groups, and connecting through messaging to collaborate virtually.  

Working with Taoti to understand the needs and experiences of our users, JGI sought to connect the Roots & Shoots family and help them share impactful stories, choose meaningful actions, and discover plentiful opportunities for getting involved in a whole new way. The website is full of innovative features, including the “Find Your Calling” quizon the homepage, which allows users to decide what issues they care about and how they would like to be involved. The quiz then provides curated pages to get them going providing them with actionable next steps.   

Most importantly, the website is as insightful and helpful for youth as it is for educators, parents, adult mentors and those supporting young changemakers in any space. In our section  

For Youth, we provide brilliant young minds with the actions, connections, opportunities,  and resources they need to feel empowered and put forth positive change in their communities through projects and actions. In our section For Educators, we offer our community leaders the lesson plans, activities, networking,online courses, digital resources, and tangible insight into youth engagement. Thanks to the elegant, intuitive design, Roots & Shoots was able to pivot immediately to provide a timely at-home learning portal needed to guide the next generation of activists and advocates through the difficulties of COVID-19. The website also thoughtfully incorporated GDPR compliance in order to create a truly safe space for young people.   

The goal for the new Roots & Shoots website was to substantially engage existing members and inspire new ones. On top of improved user experience, there was increased focus on stories, including inspiring first-hand narratives from educators, youth leaders, members, and alumni. For years, Roots & Shoots has been JGI’s way of empowering young people and securing a better future for the planet. It is a delight to know that the redesigned website is now an award-winning dedicated hub of action, support, community, and resources to help our members work toward this better future for all.  


The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Director of Storytelling & Marketing for Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is pursuing a Master's of Science in Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including 10+ years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking organizations, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces including Greens REALIGN. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to transform hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.