In the past few years, reDiscover has grown by leaps and bounds, expanding our hours, tripling our budget, and growing Tinkering School LA from 50 to 400 campers per year. We now serve over 8,000 children per year. We’ve formed a roster of teaching artists and makers who fan out every afternoon into schools across Los Angeles. With your support, our scholarship program for foster youth has grown from a handful of students to over 40 participants.
Through my personal giving and professional relationships, I receive many solicitations from worthy charities. Many of them make change sound easy. “Just $5 can give a programming kit to a child.” “Your $10 donation helps us reach 50 voters.” “Change a child’s life with this $25 class.”
Change isn’t really that like that. While we do have interactions with kids on the order of $10-25 at festivals and school workshops, we work towards deeper connection. reDiscover Center aims to change children’s identities, from consumers to creators. The best tool we’ve developed for that is our Tinkering School LA camp, which at $500 a week, doesn’t come cheap. At Tinkering School LA, children learn to match the bold exploration early childhood with the developing talents of pre-adolescence. Our tinkerers grow as creators: capable, creative, and confident. Sometimes in a single week, more often in a multi-year relationship with reDiscover, we see children start to look at any problem and say, “I can fix that.”
Our board has become a powerhouse of 11 dedicated, generous people contributing their expertise in teaching, art, marketing, and non-profit management to lead this organization. We recently adopted a 2018-2020 Strategic Plan. We’ve taking a careful look at everything we do, from the social impact of our mission to our hiring practices, to create a strategic plan that will carry this rapidly growing organization forward with the greatest educational impact, sound financial footing, and the highest standards of excellence.
Our staff and volunteers make this possible, with their enthusiasm for making and tinkering, commitment to the environment, and obvious care for the children they work with. We’ve refined our curriculum, our toolset, and our programs based on the gifts these talented teachers bring to reDiscover.
These kids are amazing.
Our amazing, charming, brilliant, varied, frustrating, creative, oh so creative children make this possible. They come to reDiscover, or find us at their school or at a festival, with open minds and hands ready to make. Some need to sit and watch for a while, or listen to what their inner 3 year old is telling them, or find the right way to connect with a facilitator, but before too long, something of the magic of reDiscover inhabits just about every child we meet, and they’re off.
I’ve been here for seven years and get a thrill every time I see a new tinkerer, with a vision burning in their head and a drill in their hand, hunting through the shelves for the right material to make it happen. To create something new and entirely their own.
It doesn’t come cheap. Some families can pay $500 for that week of camp, or $20 for a taste at an after school class. Many cannot, from right here in our Westside neighborhoods and at the schools we serve across Los Angeles.
If you have the means, please help our children become creators.
And keep tinkering!
Jonathan M Bijur