About the Initiative
Active Young Makers
The PVD Young Makers initiated from an investment of $425,000 from Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s office in 2018. The goal is to provide local youth with free and unlimited access to advanced digital tools and a supportive community and growProvidence’s reputation as a design-centric creative capital from the ground up. Free programs run in all 9 Providence Community libraries on a rolling schedule of studio time, workshops and classes. Programs also run free of charge at the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art while the Providence Public Library undergoes renovations. Programing emphasizes youth, but adult learners and volunteers are welcome to participate in programs if space is available.
Programming is managed by FabNewport in collaboration with the Providence Community Libraries, Providence Public Library, Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art and Young Voices. In addition to running programs in the libraries, the PVD Young Makers team of educators, library staff, interns and volunteers, works with schools, recreational centers and other community groups to provide access to equipment and training. The program teaches kids how to make stuff with an emphasis on coding, design and fabrication, but it is most interested in inspiring youth to grow their skills and confidence so they can make their lives.
Youth who engage with the program are encouraged to register at a library. One registered students are provided with a digital back pack. As students gain skills they earns Tools and Pathways badges which are stored.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I’m a student, how where can I go to start a badge?
- Go to> http://pvdyoungmakers.com/locations/ and click on the library closest to you, then under “Contact”, email either the librarian or the FabNewport staff.
- I’m a student and I’m 9 years old, can I get a badge?
- Yes, you will first need to contact the PVDYoungMaker staff at your library. They will guide you about the paper log and the classes or workshops you are interested in. To find the classes near you, go to > http://pvdyoungmakers.com/events/
- What’s the difference between a pathway and a badge?
- Go to > http://pvdyoungmakers.com/badges/
The Initiative’s History
On April 8, 2017, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza launched a bold new suite of community-driven, participatory, education initiatives following the All In: Providence Education Summit. The convening brought together four hundred parents, students, educators, community and business leaders, and youth serving organizations to co-articulate a cohesive vision for education in Providence. After the convening, Mayor Elorza prioritized investing in the suggestions and opportunities that came directly from the Providence school community.
One of the major collective priorities to come out of the summit suggested that enhancing student-centered learning – capturing the spark in all students – would be critical to building equitable, city-wide learning environments that meet the needs of all young people. Mayor Elorza, a firm believer in the importance of sharing ideas and new research with other Mayors and civic leaders throughout the country, also had a chance to visit HackPGH in Pittsburgh during a convening hosted by Bruce Katz and the Brookings Institute. It was during this trip that he connected the dots between student-centered approaches, maker space learning, and creative workforce development.
Following one of Katz’ many visits, Providence formally aligned itself with the Maker City initiative. Soon after, The Department of Art, Culture, and Tourism, under the direction of the Mayor’s office and with the support of the Providence City Council, advanced the idea of Providence being a Maker City during 2017’s PVDFest. For the inaugural PVDFest Ideas conference ACT, and its partner FirstWorks, conveneed humanists, makers, entrepreneurs and other future thinkers to explore what it has meant to “make” throughout history. Then, building off the energy of this convening, the City’s Office of Economic Development created the #ThinkPVD campaign. #ThinkPVD advanced conversations begun by Katz, the conference keynote, Dorothy Jones-Davis, and panelists Matthew Manos and Darrell Kinsel about the ways that the City of Providence could build on its industrial heritage and contemporary cultural assets. Mayor Elorza also tasked his team with researching technology initiatives, interviewing experts and making site visits with makers. They determined that it would take nearly half a million dollars to catalyze new opportunities for learners across the City while building on Providence’s proven success stories such as those pioneered by Maker Faire organizers and AS220 Fab Lab. FabNewport, in cooperation with the the Providence Community Libraries, the Providence Public Library, Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art and Young Voices, responded to a competitive public request for proposals issued by the City and was awarded the contract to pilot PVD Young Makers in spring of 2018. One of the first tasks that FabNewport accomplished was purchasing the essential tools, such as 3D printers, sewing machines, computers, vinyl cutters, laser cutters, robots, and other electronics, as well as the consumables that would make the maker spaces real. As soon as all ten spaces were stocked, FabNewport’s team trained librarians and interns, launching programming in March 2018. By fall of 2018, PVD Young Makers was engaging with almost 1,500 unique visitors (15% of them “super users” who take full advantage of the new makerspaces) and is collaborating with over a dozen community partners.
“We need 3D printers on every street corner for our kids.”