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The Maker's Hub

BUILDING A TOOL LIBRARY IN COMPTON

Nonprofit

Buying tools you may only use once can be frustrating. If we could only borrow them, but from who? There are 200+ Tool Libraries across the nation, but none in Los Angeles! Tool Libraries aren’t just places to borrow tools for home and garden projects but to start a small business, to teach repair classes, to disperse emergency supplies when climate change events happen and to empower the community. So, let’s build some, starting in Compton!



Describe the mission of your organization.

Our Mission is to empower makers, inventors and aspiring entrepreneurs by providing Makerspaces and Tool Libraries in underserved Communities.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The underserved community of Compton has a 20+% poverty level and 50+% homeownership. It suffers more severely from climate change events such as storms, flooding, and heat, due to homes being uninsulated, lack of air-conditioning, old roofing, and little to no energy efficiencies. The residents and nearby neighborhoods need an affordable way to update and repair their homes and be empowered to respond to disasters quickly by having access to emergency tools and supplies. Compton is also a community that is interested in re-branding itself for its notorious reputation. The city and its residents need resources to re-built itself, one home/one business at a time.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

We will build a 1,200 square foot Tool Library in the City of Compton as a template for others to be built in the LA region. The model will copy the longstanding Berkley Tool Library as they have been the prototype for Oakland’s, Portland’s, and Seattle’s Tool Library. We will offer 3,500+ hardware, landscaping and crafting tools to accommodate home and garden projects, small business development, and emergency supplies. We will partner with EntreNous Youth Empowerment Services, to provide staffing, as a paid internship program to their YouthBuild students. Once built, we will offer DIY classes, and hold quarterly repair café events with volunteer support from local experts. Rediscover Center, a kid’s makerspace in Venice has offered to support us in the development of the library, as they have 10 years of experience in a similar operation and an Executive Director with a Degree in Library Science. Additionally, they will participate in regular Repair Café events to support local kids’ tool learning and making. Operations will be supported through late fees, sliding scale membership for users outside the City of Compton, tool manufactures sponsorships, and grants from the Community for Career Development for the internship program. LA2050 funding, will finalize a lease agreement, begin the renovation of the space, and purchase the shelving, equipment, software, initial tools and a giant sign - 2021 WINNERS of LA2050 Challenge Grant proudly display above the help counter.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

5,000
Direct impact
15,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Once the Compton Library is operational, other cities will begin opening their own Tool Library and possibly copy our model. We will support this effort through social media outreach and direct calls to city Libraries and home improvement nonprofits. This in turn will create a network of tool libraries to expand climate change resiliency for the entire region. Furthermore, tools will be available throughout Los Angeles, not only for resiliency and home improvements but also to sustain family career pathways. The Library will have tools for people wanting to start a small business such as; handyman, landscaping, or carpet installation to name a few. To further support small business development, our Tool Library will also have some tools for craft Makers to borrow; various types of sewing machines, vinyl cutters, sublimation presses, and so on. Tool Libraries will become as common in Los Angeles as they are in Northern California.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We have surveyed and will implement the best strategies from seven very successful tool library operations for their membership, cost to operate, and volunteer services. Our unique part is our collaboration with Compton YouthBuild to support staffing. We have based our initial tool inventory and protocols from the 40-year-old Berkeley Tool Library. Once built, we will track and analyze data on the frequency of tools borrowed, types of projects, and demographics of the members (Skill level, gender, and age). This will help hone tool replacement frequency, and quantity needs. Tracking the projects and demographics will help refine tool training, types of DIY classes, and outreach mode and messaging. This data will support development for other Tool Libraries in the region. A common Tool Library App – myturn.com, will be used to gather data, manage tool inventory and memberships. We will also gather data at the service counter for training needs and project types.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

EntreNous Youth Empowerment Services, Inc. operates the Compton YouthBuild. They will fund and create a paid on-the-job internship program, for students to work at the Tool Library. The interns will be trained to manage the tool inventory and database, provide customer support, help customers learn to use the tools safely, and participate in the repair café events. YouthBuild students will gain confidence, expand their network, and may begin to create their own side businesses. Rediscover Center is a kid’s makerspace in Venice, CA. They want to expand their reach into underserved communities and will bring child-centered tools and makerspace programs to the library. The Executive Director has a degree in Library Science and will support the development of the operations and inventory.

Which of the live metrics will you impact?​

  • Resilient communities

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CREATE

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