How it all started
In the fall of 2015, a UMASS graduate student began studying University Design center models and makerspaces around the country. In the spring of 2016, the UMASS Design Center Executive Director teamed up with MassDevelopment's Transformative Development fellow to launch a one-month pop-up makerspace in a vacant storefront in downtown Springfield.
Make-It Springfield's co-founders partnered with the The Business Improvement District and Silverbrick Lofts to rent a vacant commercial space at a deep discount. We then recruited UMASS faculty and students, as well as a wide-variety of community members to host hands-on workshops in technology, art, engineering, bicycle repair, cooking, and sewing. So, with all the basics in place, we took a deep breath and opened the doors on June 1st, 2016!
In the first month, volunteers hosted over 40 workshops and more than 450 community members of all ages and backgrounds participated. It was clear we were onto something. We stretched our initial seed funding to cover the rest of the summer rent. Our calendar kept filling up every month and participants kept showing up. We started hosting "Monthly Maker Meetings" to continue sustaining and improving Make-It Springfield. DevelopSpringfield then signed on to be our fiscal sponsor and help mentor us as we grow.
As we continued meeting more makers, we learned there was little to no affordable incubation space for creative businesses in Springfield. So, we converted a storage room into a mini photography studio for an aspiring entrepreneur. Learn more about the businesses currently co-located within Make-It Springfield here.
In our second year of operation, we rolled out a new affordable membership model to help sustain our operations. And, we continue to deepen our impact and sustainability as we stay true to our mission of building a community where everyone is inspired and empowered to make & create. Join us!
A transformed storefront—from vacant....to vibrant!