Established in 1994 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Geek Group has provided members of our community with direct access to science and technology through educational, vocational, and recreational programming for over 20 years. We are firmly entrenched in the future of technology. Children enrolling in kindergarten in 2018 are expecting to graduate high school in 2031- a year in which we cannot anticipate the employment outlook because 50% of existing jobs will no longer exist. We develop services for use in the classroom, at home, and at our facility. Our programming assists K-12 students, post-secondary students, and adults. Our programming targets vulnerable families: those at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, first-generation college families, recent immigrants, people of color, single-parent households, families without stable housing, refugees and their children, and households that lack technology.
The Geek Group fills an important gap by providing a physical and virtual place to discover, invent and learn through making — to explore ideas with the right tools and collaborative people.
The Geek Group is open to:
- High school and college aged students who want to explore and learn in a hands-on environment for career advancement or just to explore an interest, develop skills, or gain work experience in a meaningful STEAM area
- Entrepreneurs who want to research and develop new products with the aid of state-of-the-art design software and equipment as well as access experts from across the globe
- Small businesses that need a place to improve an existing product and/or a manufacturing process
- Artists who need a place to create
- Hobbyists who want to expand their skills and help others learn
The Geek Group is unique in our flexibility to meet individual educational needs. Every member is unique; so are their needs and goals. Some young members are seeking specific programming: training on equipment, a particular computer language, or another specific hard skill. Some are seeking broader training, learning to integrate technology into their lives as they develop their soft skill sets in navigating the world. Our adult members generally seek more targeted programming. They know what they want, get the tools they need, and immediately progress toward their goals. Others need help to identify their goals; our capable staff guides them through this process. With a small amount of training, our members frequently find themselves in completely new careers, with qualifications and opportunities for advancement. In this way, The Geek Group provides new opportunities in a timeframe previously thought impossible.
Our Vision - Agile Education
Join us in bringing to fruition our comprehensive approach in optimizing community impact and creating direct access to education for every age and walk of life come to life. Key components of our three-year plan include:
- Capacity Building for TGG
- Strengthening direct services and community impact for underserved populations
- Serving as the backbone organization for cooperative efforts in supplemental education
- Aligning with partners to develop and sustain curriculum that is consistently relevant and necessary
Your gift to The Geek Group will help us continue to provide our programming on our campus in Grand Rapids, and our virtual programming available to learners around the world. We have over 75,000 individuals who are utilizing our programming, and who rely on us to further their technical education to improve job outlooks.
Your gift during the campaign will be used to support the general operating expenses of The Geek Group. Unrestricted gifts such as these are what allow us to continue to expand our influence. Your support will enable us to continue to operate our campus in Grand Rapids, serving thousands of children and adults who are existing in the opportunity gap. It will allow us to run a comprehensive membership marketing campaign, helping us to reach our goal of 2,000 local members by the end of 2018. It will allow us to continue to upgrade some of our most frequently used equipment, providing better access to our members and student visitors. Not paying staff, not providing programming, not purchasing supplies for member use. Simply keeping the doors open. A gift made during this campaign will allow us to focus our efforts on program expansion, knowing that our basic needs have been met.
We are a Guide Star Platinum Seal of Transparency holder, providing assurance to our donors that we see the stewardship of the resources given to us as a great responsibility. You can make a gift knowing that your investment in The Geek Group is one that will multiply impact in the community.
How we will use a grant from A Community Thrives
A grant from A Community Thrives will be used to support our Hands-On STEM field trip and youth education program. The purpose of our Hands-On STEM program is to ensure that students in the Midwest have access to interactive STEM-based education. The Hands-on STEM program is designed to give students a hands on experience with science and technology. It follows the principle of “Hands-On is Minds-On,” meaning people who are physically participating in the learning activity are much more likely to retain information. STEM focused curricula have demonstrated many benefits. They give visual and kinesthetic experiences while deploying problem-solving skills. Physically working on a project helps participants see other approaches and methods for solving a given problem or challenge. Experience with group-based STEM education encourages positive teamwork principles, increases the likelihood of graduation, and helps students perform better in science and math.
The program is targeted towards youth-focused organizations including K-12 schools, after school programs, and youth-serving organizations. During a trip to The Geek Group, trip leaders have the opportunity to customize the experience and tailor it to the group's needs. Participants have the opportunity to interact with our rapid manufacturing design lab, robotics exhibits, woodworking and metalworking tools, electronics production workshop, and the opportunity to experience a high voltage physics energy show during their 90 minute- 2 hour trip.
In 2016, 3,500 students from 12 states visited The Geek Group in order to be immersed in STEM education. In 2017, we served 5,000 students through this program. For the 2018/2019 school year, our goal is to increase the number of participants by 40%, reaching 7,000 students.