Foundation For Youth makeover provides room for space to create

Foundation For Youth has reached a $19,000 fundraising goal to renovate the center’s creative space into a maker studio.

The Columbus youth organization is planning a $38,000 project to overhaul and redesign Foundation For Youth’s Funology! area to a maker studio, a space for the community to simply create. The renovation will result in a permanent fixture sponsored by Exhibit Columbus.

“It will allow us to offer more opportunities to people in the community who want that experience working with technology, working on crafts and projects they may not have access to,” said Andy Young, director of youth development at Foundation For Youth, located at 405 Hope Ave.

The space will include new computers, 3-D printing machines, laser cutters and drawing technology, among other items.

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Young said the long-term plan is to open the maker studio to the community throughout the day and in the evening, free of charge, Young said.

Using Patronicity, a state-run crowdfunding site, Foundation For Youth set its goal at $19,000, raised ahead of Friday’s deadline.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority agreed to match every dollar raised, resulting in a total of $38,000.

This will be the second maker space in Columbus.

Curtis Hartwell, the Bartholomew County Public Library’s social media coordinator, brought the first maker space, known as Digital Underground, to the city in the library basement.

“I’m super excited for another group to be providing 3-D printing opportunities in Columbus,” said Jayden Darnell, who manages the Digital Underground. “There’s room for two and there’s room for more. It’ll be cool to learn from each other.”

Both the Digital Underground and the FFY maker studio embreace the space concept, but each offers different features from the another.

Wil Marquez, founder of design company w/purpose, is a maker space professional and has developed one of three maker spaces in Indianapolis. Marquez and his team at w/purpose will design the Foundation for Youth maker studio, and he said he plans to place the project on a fast track.

“The art spaces and creative spaces in our Boys and Girls Clubs today are probably the same ones that were in there in 1983,” Marquez said. “That is bins of paint brushes, bins of crayons, tables marked on and painted on.”

Marquez said his focus is on how to attract and retain teens in a way that transforms existing areas into a creative space with today’s 21st century tools and 21st century learning.

“We’re not just making cool spaces to make cool spaces, but I think we’re trying to bridge the gap for manufacturing here in Indiana,” Marquez said. “We’re trying to build stewards of innovation so that way of thinking stays in the state. The space becomes way bigger than just a cool place for kids to hang out.”

Erin Hetrick, Exhibit Columbus’ education coordinator, is in charge of developing a curriculum for the maker studio. She said the curriculum incorporates design education, as well as various school standards set by the state.

“The maker studio is not only a place to drop in and use the equipment,” Hetrick said, “but hopefully a place to run after-school programs or a series summer workshops that won’t only teach you how to use the equipment but the step before that: how to design something so then you can use the equipment.”

Hetrick said it’s important that people understand the curriculum also focuses on why architecture and design is important and how to execute it.

“We’re going to take the ideas that are in your sketchbooks that are not only drawn in the margins of their paper, but typically stay in the margins,” Marquez said. “What we’re telling them is that those ideas won’t have to stay there anymore.”

Through the use of technology such as 3-D printers, Marquez said not only students but people in the community will be able to bring their ideas to life in real time while understanding the power of design.

“Every neighborhood and every community has a different use for their maker space,” Marquez said. “Whatever it is, we need more of them.”

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The maker studio will take the place of the existing Funology! room at the Columbus Foundation for Youth, 405 Hope Ave. Using the funds raised, Foundation for Youth will purchase new computers, software and specialized equipment, including a 3D scanner, a CNC router and a 3D printer. These products will be used to create prototypes designed by the community. While the space will be available for members of the Boys and Girls Club during operating hours, the long-term goal is to open the area to the community for free during the day and in the evening.

Learn more about Foundation for Youth at or call 812-348-4558.