Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Free Library gets $500K federal grant to expand ‘Maker Jawn’ program

The Free Library will use the money to expand its programming to more than just kids.

The Free Library of Philadelphia got a $500,000 federal grant to expand its Maker Jawn Initiative, an after-school maker program.

The grant, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will go toward creating programming for a wider audience, including adults and families, said Theresa Ramos, program development coordinator at the Free Library, through a spokeswoman. It’ll be focused on three North Philly libraries: Lillian Marrero, Ramonita de Rodriguez and Cecil B. Moore.

Right now, Maker Jawn is offered at six libraries in North Philly and Southwest Philly. Students learn how to do hands-on things like sew, make copper tape notebooks and build e-textiles. (Wearable tech hacker Leslie Birch is one mentor at Maker Jawn.)

Educators are turning to the maker trend to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) — we’ve seen more and more schools open up makerspaces in the last year.


The broader vision, Ramos said, is to run Maker Jawn at more Philly organizations and possibly on a national scale.

No word on whether the beloved catch-all (excuse us, “context-dependent substitute noun“) will also scale nationally, but let’s hope.

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