History & Impact

Learning Communities

Contracted Learning Communities (2020-2022)
Beginning in 2020, educators who had attended our workshops asked us about deeper and longer learning opportunities for staff at their organizations.  We supported 6 organizations in what we called Learning Communities.  These communities were designed in collaboration with the partner organization and brought together practices from our workshops and Making Spaces.  Each Learning Community was unique and lasted between four and twelve months.

Making Spaces (2016 – 2022)
Making Spaces began from a collaboration between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) and Kickstarter in 2015, focused on crowdfunding school makerspaces and providing professional development for schools interested in bringing this type of hands-on learning into their classrooms.  We iterated the professional development (PD) and coaching provided to the participating organizations (Regional Hubs) throughout the span of this program.  The initial PD focused almost entirely on visioning and setting up a program; crowdfunding campaigns in 2017 brought in almost $400,000 to support the school sites.  The 2.5 year support model focused on developing and deepening practice, providing resources to help Hubs 1) develop an ecosystem of support for maker centered learning, 2) build capacity beyond one educator at a site, 3) have equity focused discussions (both internal reflection and programmatic design), 4) increase liberatory pedagogy, and 5) grow assessment practices.  Our goal is to support organizations around the nation as they build ecosystems of liberatory maker-centered education for young people in their local communities.

Many organizations have continued to bring on cohorts of schools / Sites to work with beyond their initial cohorts while working with us.  Over the course of this program, we have supported 36 Regional Hubs (12 museums, 3 libraries, 10 educational institutions, 11 community centers or non-profits, and 1 government agency).  Those 36 Hubs have in turn supported almost 250 Sites (majority of which are schools).  Cohort 4 worked with 76 Sites, providing professional development to an estimated 250+ educators and support staff over the 2020-2022 school years.  2016-2018: Cohort 1 (10 Hubs), 2017-19 Cohort 2 (5 Hubs), 2018-19 Cohort 3 (6 Hubs), 2020-22 Cohort 4 (10 Hubs), 2021-22 (Cohort 5 (5 Hubs).

Maker VISTA (2013 – 2017) & Maker Fellows (2020-2022)
The Maker VISTA project was a partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA to foster maker programming year-round in communities across the nation, using community-school outreach strategies to ensure youth in high-poverty communities had access to making opportunities to engage them in STEM activities, the arts, and learning as a whole. Through their role as capacity builders, VISTA members act as community connectors and document the essential elements to sustain thriving maker communities in high need areas. Maker Ed began Maker VISTA in 2013 with five sites and nine Maker VISTAs in California. Over five years, Maker Ed trained nearly 100 Maker VISTAs who supported 25 sites across the country. These VISTAs recruited hundreds of volunteers, contributed thousands of hours of service, and raised over $200,000 in donations. In 2020, Citizen Schools picked up the mantle of maker-focused VISTAs under the program title Maker Fellows. Maker Ed supported Maker Fellows through a learning community for their first two cohorts.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (2017)
In 2017, Maker Ed teamed up with Verizon’s Innovative Learning Initiative to offer ongoing training and support to 50 classroom teachers, school librarians, instructional technology coaches, and principals representing eighteen elementary and middle schools from across the United States as each plotted out spaces and programs for making on their campuses and in their classrooms. Combining a two-day in-person kick-off workshop with monthly support calls, Maker Ed thought-partnered with participating educators to shape visions and goals for maker-centered learning that responded to the unique needs of each school community. 

Maker CORPS (2013 – 2017)
Maker Corps met the national demand for human capacity in youth serving organizations by embedding mentors into Host Sites such as museums, libraries, schools, and afterschool programs. Summer Camp vibe. engage children in creative projects through partnerships with science centers, libraries, summer camp providers, and other youth serving agencies. Throughout its 5 years in existence, the Maker Corps program hosted a community of support and provided professional development to more than 800 Maker Corps members and supervisors at 120 organizations across 21 states and 4 countries as they designed and developed maker-centered summer programming. Supported throughout its history by Cognizant, as well as, more recently, by Chevron, Maker Corps supported organizations in leveraging the fresh ideas and inspiration of Maker Corps Members, or summer makers-in-residence. This program served over 570,000 youth and families across the nation over the course of five years.

Young Makers (2012 – 2017)
The goal of the Young Makers program was to develop youth into confident and capable individuals through the process of making. This was a volunteer-run program that Maker Ed adopted from Maker Media in 2012. The program connected young people with adult mentors through local clubs.  These clubs met regularly to dream up and develop projects for exhibition at a signature event (e.g. Maker Faire) each year.  Young people worked with a mentor to create a youth-chosen, open-ended project, culminating in an opportunity to share and exhibit at a showcase event. This program inspired over 800 young makers who exhibited hundreds of projects at Maker Faires.