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Q's about starting a space
Seems like this forum is not monitored but will try anyway since the make-a-makerspace email address no longer works.  
Here is the email that just bounced back:

Tons of questions about starting a maker/hacker/fab space but it seems like most of the online blogs and other documentation is 7 to 10 years old.  Much is relevant but some of the information is quite obviously woefully out of date.
We're interested in a ~10k sq ft second floor space in a well kept building with light industrial zoning that is currently available and can be acquired with excellent terms due to connections.  City location with 45k population per square mile with similar to much higher population densities within 2 to 3 miles.

I'll start with two questions:
(1) What are the advantages of a 501-3c organization if nobody here has experience with grant writing?  Seems like it would just add an extra layer of ongoing rules and regulations to have to deal with as opposed to setting up a corporation.  Any link you can point me to would be helpful.
(2) We'd like to add some sort of educational/outreach element to the local community which is truly diverse in all ways from million dollar homes to enormous city run housing projects within a one mile radius.  What legal protections do we need if we would host workshops with 10 year olds to 18 year olds?  I'm not sure if this applies but I know that our city requires fingerprinting and background checking of anybody paid or volunteering for anything that could even remotely fit into the "child care" description.

Right now you are catching us at a significantly awkward time, which is part of the reason for the low use of the forum.

We are in the process of moving from our former location in Somerville to a new, larger location in Allston.  This process is being significantly delayed by COVID / Supply Chain, and the local electrical power monopoly that doesn't seem able to find us a power connection....  In addition our current Executive Director is leaving at the end of the month, so a lot of our attention is focused on finding his replacement.

I am not an expert on your questions, but my understanding is that the 501.c.3 designation basically is better because it gets you out of a lot of tax payments on things like memberships and studio rental, etc.  It also does give you the ability to chase grants, donations and so on, which seems to be a serious need to keep your costs to members reasonable over time.

In terms of the outreach to kids, it raises a lot of concerns - starting w/ getting liability insurance.  It can be a lot easier / less expensive to get coverage for 18+ than it is for anything w/ kids involved. (For most of it's history AA was limited to 18+ because of insurance restrictions)  I don't know the rules on background checks and such for 'teachers' but you also need to find out how they would apply to ALL the other members that might be using the space at the same time.  Another consideration is what sorts of tools you will be having in your space, and how to keep the kids from wandering into areas w/ particularly dangerous tools...  Shops like 3-D printing, laser cutters, electronics and so on are pretty safe and you might be able to do courses for 10yo's...  It gets more iffy when you start having heavy duty power tools like the wood and metal shops, welding, machining and so on, and those might need to have higher age limits.  (Think about the rules for tools being used by minors in after school jobs)  Do you need to have a requirement for parents / guardians to be present when kids are there, or not?  Lots of questions, I don't have any good answers for....

A final thought - I'm personally a paraplegic, and so I hope that you will have thought about disability accessibility / ADA compliance in the 2nd floor space you mentioned...  (Be sure to check into the ADA requirements for the space, I know of a space in NH that got hit with a major expense because the bathroom they put in wasn't accessible, and they had to tear it out completely and rebuild it...)

I will send an email to our ED and let him know this thread is here and hopefully he can help you find more / better answers.


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