Youth Programs

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

Working with our local institutions we are currently developing programming to support computer assisted design and making in all four of our shops or labs.  Thanks to The Garman Family Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, and The Emerging Philanthropists of Color for their grants in support of these sessions. In the Spring of 2019 we worked with two groups (5th and 6th graders and 12th graders) in our TechLab to begin work on an interactive installation. A third group (5th and 6th graders) are working with us to design and build our second version of our sensor enabled night light. 

Current Programming:

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 many youth need interactive exploratory activities which allow them 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 explore different opportunities. Focused career options are rooted in design and advanced manufacturing, woodworking, metalwork, fiber and textiles as well as maker-based technologies.

Program Needs: Depending on the structure of the program, funding ranges between $2500 and $10,000 annually. Currently supported by individual donors, grants, after school funds for 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 this year to build two mobile market carts. This spring The African Heritage Food Co-op is set to move through our East Side neighborhood to distribute the produce they grow with 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 making community-based projects. We have created benches, a trellis, and a giant Adirondack chair for the Outer Harbor. Little libraries, blue Buffalo bike racks, garbage receptacles have been created for Grant St, and we are frequently asked to make signs for community gardens.

Funding Needs:  The Foundry covers the cost of an instructor, use of our facilities and admin time for coordinating with clients, picking up materials, Typically our partner programs cover the cost of their supervisor and transportation for the students, though sometimes we co-apply for funding to cover 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.



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 your wave your hand over it. We are currently concluding 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 onsite!


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 WEDI's 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. printed-daffadil.jpg


In 2018 The Foundry hosted tours for elementary, middle and high school students. Schedule one with us today by emailing

Our Current Partners:

Health Sciences Charter School (9-12th grade)

Boys & Girls Club (4th-8th grade)

The WAY to Life Program- Baker Victory Services (ages 14-21)

Baker Victory Services - Baker Hall (ages 14-17)

WNY YouthBuild (ages 16-24)


If you have a community building or design project for a garden, public art space or local lot, please contact us to coordinate this special learning opportunity by sending E-mail to