Humanmade, a non-profit partner of SFMade and a tenant in the Manufacturing Foundry, is a state-of-the-art makerspace that that houses San Francisco’s most extensive open-access design, fabrication, and prototyping facility. Humanmade’s mission is to empower individuals in the community to become the next generation of inventors, designers, and fabricators.
Much of Humanmade’s work since it opened last year has been dedicated to training local residents for jobs in the industry as part of Mayor London Breed’s Next Generation Manufacturing Workforce Development Program that SFMade and Humanmade partners on and that is designed to train individuals to gain jobs in the manufacturing sector in as little as 12 weeks.
“We focus on giving folks the necessary tools and vocabulary required to successfully be employed in the manufacturing industry,” said Ryan Spurlock, Founder and Executive Director, Humanmade. “It’s a mix of hard skills and job readiness skills that we incorporate in our program. Both are equally important.”
Recruiting for the Next Generation program is largely focused on attracting Bayview-Hunters Point residents, a community that is close to Spurlock’s heart.
“My father owned a bar in Hunters Point , so I understand there a lot of folks who live there who unfortunately don’t have the means or the networks to access jobs that have the potential to improve their standard of living,” he said. “It’s amazing to see folks going into a career they would otherwise not have thought about prior to this program being available to them.”
95% of the Next Generation program’s participants are extremely low-income San Franciscans, and 80% are people of color.
Shifting from training to PPE production:
Spurlock anticipated the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and made the decision to shut down all operations a few days before the shelter-in-place order was given, which meant delaying new projects Humanmade was about to start, including working with YMCA to expose students to the kind of tools used in making and manufacturing.
“It was really sad to not only displace local manufacturers but also people who find refuge through making in our facility,” said Spurlock.
Despite having to cancel their regular services, Humanmade was quickly able to shift to producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers in partnership with UCSF. Spurlock also set up Humanmade as a drop off hub for others in the community who would like to produce face shields on their 3D printers. Together, these efforts have produced more than 1,000 face shields for the critical front-line workers.
What happens next?
Instead of being discouraged by the disruption caused by COVID-19, Spurlock is encouraged by the attention makers and local manufacturers received for producing much needed masks and PPE during the crisis.
“There’s been this storm of validation about why programs like Humanmade should exist,” said Spurlock. “It was the makerspace community that stepped up to produce PPE for front line workers when they weren’t available anywhere else.
“The validity of our program and the importance of our work is greater than ever in the sense that we’re addressing two of the challenges we’re seeing as a nation: first, the inability to manufacture domestically; and second, the recognition that instead of hoping for inclusivity, we see that we need to work harder to force inclusivity, and our programs are specifically designed to benefit people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and those without the means to enter a 4-year program. It’s a unique time for a business like Humanmade.”
Spurlock is looking forward to reopening “as soon as possible in a safe manner” to help local manufacturers who are producing products in San Francisco or continuing to help provide COVID-related support like sneeze guards, face masks, and face shields. “We’re really excited to get all of our programs up and running again.
“We’re hoping early July is when we’ll be back,” he said.
Humanmade is currently accepting applications for the next cohort of the Next Generation Manufacturing Program, which begins on July 6th. Click here to contact Humanmade and to learn more.