Dear Maker Ed Community,
2016 has been quite a year of change for Maker Ed and for the larger national and international community in which we reside.
For Maker Ed, it has been a year of growth as an organization. We undertook a rewarding year revisiting our strategic plan and refining our Theory of Change, to refocus and strengthen our efforts for supporting educators. This process has allowed us to bring clarity to our long-term goals and strategies and more broadly strengthen our organization so we might better serve educational communities to realize our vision of “Every Child a Maker.“ Our work is for every young person having equitable access to engaging learning experiences that collectively develop their skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking, and that recognize and value their ability to experience and influence their world.
And as we reflected over our work and vision this year, we have reemphasized the values we hold that will help us reach our goals: Access and Equity, Community, Empowerment and Learning to Learn. These values will allow us to weather the challenges and changes that 2017 and future years will inevitably bring.
One of these values that will be instrumental in reaching the goal that every child have the opportunity for engaging learning experiences, is that of “access and equity.” Our work exemplifies this value. In 2016 and years past we have focused on serving many diverse communities: schools and learning institutions serving girls, high poverty areas, rural communities, communities of immigrants, traditionally underrepresented minorities, and many more. We’ve expanded our programs to bring maker education to nearly 250,000 youth this year. In 2017, we hope to serve many more, by growing our existing programs and building new ones, such as Making Spaces, which aims to bring sustainable fundraising practices to school makerspaces. As always, ourprograms and resources will continue to focus on underserved communities.
Based on this planning and evaluation work, we have made some great strides in our three core foci as an organization: Community of Support, Educator Professional Development and Resources.
We made wonderful progress in supporting the maker educator community. Through generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we were able to conduct thorough research into the needs of the broader maker educator community and begin thoughtful community-building work based on those findings. This included our 2nd annual maker educator convening—which was restructured and more than twice the size of our first convening—instituting an “Ask a Maker Educator” weekly online Q&A session; and focusing on ways to increase the number and frequency of local Maker Educator Meet-Ups, and a major redesign of our Resource Library to better serve the community. And, as we have done in previous years, we hosted Maker Faire Education Stages at the Bay Area and New York Maker Faires, and held many more online and in-person opportunities to strengthen and expand the maker educator community.
We’ve also expanded and enhanced our professional development offerings. The Professional Development category of our Resource Library launched this fall, with funding from Chevron, offering free professional training resources, both curated and original. We created, in partnership with Digital Promise, six micro-credentials for maker education. Our first facilitated online course was offered this year, “Mapping Making.”
In 2017 and the years that follow we will strive to further expand deepen ourengagement around equity and access. We look forward to continuing the work we’ve started in 2016 by expanding the reach of our programs even further, continuing to grow and support the wider maker education community, and building rewarding, accessible and engaging learning experiences for all youth.
Warren (Trey) Lathe
Executive Director, Maker Ed