Youth Programs

The Foundry partners with schools, community groups and agencies to provide after school options and day programs that enable participants to explore STEAM or to fulfill either Career Development or Occupational Studies (CDOS) requirements.

Working with our local organizations, we have developed programming to support computer assisted design and making in all four of our shops or labs.  If you have a community-based design & build project for a garden, public art space or local lot, please contact us to coordinate this special learning opportunity by sending E-mail to


Tours - During our open and normally active periods, The Foundry hosts tours for elementary, middle and high school students. Schedule one with us for a future date by emailing


Current Youth Programming:

Funded with a grant from the Small Business Administration ( Advanced Manufacturing classes continue through the covid 19 pandemic as an online program. We began this face-to-face program by grounding an understanding of small batch manufacturing using our Metalshop, TechLab and the newly created Digital Fabrication Lab.  With tools on site from innovative local industries and workflows aligned with companies in our Buffalo network, a small group of young people from Youthbuild WNY and our makerspace community joined us to secure both some timeless techniques and timely computer assisted design strategies. These are skills needed by workers entering new and emerging positions in currently open, high paying manufacturing jobs in Buffalo. 

Can young people who have struggled to excel when confronted with complicated economic, social and personal issues master the hard and soft skills required to enter positions that combine using complicated machinery and computer-based manufacturing? In meeting with these particular students our resounding response was YES.  The commitment to and interest in learning expressed by our pilot group, led to our decision to try to support this group's advancement using distributed learning options and practices.  


Past Programs:

Thanks to The Garman Family Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, and The Emerging Philanthropists of Color for their grants in support of our STEM and STEAM sessions.

This Last Fall we led a STEM program for 12th graders focused on electricity in the TechLab. A group of 8th graders also joined us in the TechLab and TextileLab. They designed and constructed a collection of sewn stuffed animals with embedded circuits, which they made for younger students.  LED eyes, soldered into fabric hedgehogs and owls stitched with sensors, light up when noses or beak are touched.



Make It Program

The Foundry has offered hands-on learning for after school programs since its inception in 2013. Our Make It Program was born out of the recognition that interactive, exploratory activities allow student to experiment in our shops and labs as they consider possible career options. The Make It Program offers multiple sessions throughout the year where students can select to engage in different opportunities in different shops. Focused career options are rooted in woodworking, metalwork, techniques for using fiber and textiles, or maker-based technologies.

Program Needs: Depending on the structure of the program, funding ranges from $2500 to $10,000 annually. Currently supported by individual donors, grants, or after-school funds from our community.

Growth: We are looking to build partnerships with other k-12+ educational organizations to broaden support. If you are a teacher, administrator, or program director please reach out!

Students enrolled in YouthBuild joined us to build two mobile market carts.  The African Heritage Food Co-op is set to move through our East Side neighborhood to distribute the produce they grow from the cart pictured to the left.


MakeIt for Community is a version of our Make It Program that allows students to explore different skillsets and career pathways while building a specific community-based project. We have designed and fabricated benches, a trellis, and a giant Adirondack chair for the Outer Harbor. Little libraries, blue Buffalo bike racks, garbage receptacles have been created for different groups, and we are frequently asked to make signs and planters for community gardens.

Funding Needs:  The Foundry covers the cost of an instructor, use of our facilities, and the administrative time needed to coordinate with clients or pick up materials. Typically our partner programs cover the cost of their supervisors and transportation for the students - though sometimes we collaborate to apply for funding to cover the cost of these sessions.

Growth: Not only can The Foundry make small items -- benches or a trellis, we have the potential to build larger structures such as arbors, green roofs, community structures and tiny houses. Good examples of other programs that do large scale community build projects: Yestermorrow Design/Build School and Rural Studio. We are looking to grow in this direction over the next few years.


STEAM & STEM - Supported by a range of different grants, Afterschool Programming at The Foundry has expanded. 

5th graders have created interactive fireflies from recycled materials and small electronic components. The little creatures begin to light up when you wave at them.  

12th graders learned about coding and interactivity by creating a set of creatures that "swim" (rise and fall), wave or growl.

8th graders developed a new toy for younger kids using circuits and tools for computer assisted design using fibers from our TextileLab.



Students from Baker Victory Services and Health Sciences Charter School worked with us to develop a nightlight we designed for younger students.  It has a motion sensor built in – so in a dark room, it turns on when you wave your hand over it.  We concluded the second year of this program - thanks to The Emerging Philanthropists of Color for help with funding and to Thimble for co-writing a grant with us to get their wonderful kits for tinkering with code here onsite!


Growth:  Grant writing is currently underway to assure that arts continue to be an important part of the work we do to support an understanding of science, new technologies, engineering principles and math concepts that young makers need to design new objects in our shops and labs. We are also seeking private funds to work with a group of students to investigate the way waves impact life on our planet -- what impact might systems we can build with audio or colored lights have on plants  -- and on us?!


Experiential Learning - Day Programs get students out of the classroom and into the studio or lab to expose them to real-life opportunities for skills development. We work with students to make community-based projects. We have recently made outdoor tables for the Northland Corridor project, an outdoor bench for WEDIs office on Grant Street, and a game table for the Dearborn Street Community Garden for the BRR|Alliance. We mark all building projects with a ribbon-cutting event so students are able to celebrate their success and the work they’ve achieved.

Program Needs: We need sponsors and community sites to work with us to design build projects. Our application process for new projects starts in late spring for the following year so that we can build two projects in our woodshop and metalshop.

Growth: Currently we offer two programs - one each week in our Woodshop and Metalshop. We are looking to expand to offer a third day for BPS that will run in our TechLab and TextileLab.

  WEDI Bench Ribbon cutting  
scanned-daughterKM-2018.jpg A number of students join us each year to make their own 3D printed objects.  We also teach participants laser scanning and 3D mesh creation.  We don’t like to download pre-made files from the web – we teach people to create their own three-dimensional works, masterpieces and usable products. 



Our Prior  (and hopefully future) Partners:

To learn more about options for partnering, please send an email to to start the conversation.