2020 Grants Challenge

STEAM Lab Makerspace: Learn, Create, Play!

2BCF will install its signature program, STEAM Lab Makerspace (SLM), in 20 low/moderate income elementary, middle and high schools in Los Angeles that have been wait-listed since 2017, benefitting over 13,000 diverse, under-served students. Installed with upcycled materials and original curriculum, each SLM is a career-readiness incubator of ideas - a “student think tank” where students can build STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math)-related skills to understand how things work, experiment, redesign and invent projects.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA


In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

There are sustained, documented inequities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) education throughout the US. Minorities and economically disadvantaged students are less prepared in STEAM coursework, leaving them less informed about science and technology, less prepared for the workforce, more likely to wind up with lower social and economic mobility, and experience a diminished quality of life. This “under educating” of a substantial number of local students negatively impacts LA's viability as a strong employment market. According to US Dept. of Labor, over 50% of today's jobs require some degree of technology skills, which experts say will increase to 77% in the next decade. Yet, LA has the nation's 5th largest job skills gap, primarily in technology. For disadvantaged students preparing for the future, SLMs level the playing field by providing the space and resources with which to learn, innovate, experiment and build employable skills.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Since its founding in 2004 as T4T.org, Two Bit Circus Foundation has been committed to two over-arching goals: 1) providing critically-needed STEAM resources to under-served schools and their educators; and, 2) presenting STEAM principles, grounded in Project Based Learning, in an environmentally-sustainable and playful manner that nurtures innovation, creativity and critical thinking. Over the years, the SLM has emerged as 2BCF's most popular program. Since 2015, 2BCF has provided 173 STEAM Lab Makerspaces to PreK-12 schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties, as well as two in Tennessee. These unique educational spaces come with upcycled materials, a range of tools, and original, innovative PBL-based curriculum that is both grade-specific and aligned with State-approved STEAM-related standards. Through its SLM program, 2BCF has introduced over 200,000 preK-12 students, well over half of them from diverse, low/moderate income families, to STEAM/STEM.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 13,030

Indirect Impact: 26,060

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

SLMs provide STEM/STEAM resources for preK-12 students as they prepare for future education and an increasingly tech-heavy workplace. This is particularly critical for the nearly 500,000 non-white LAUSD students who live at or below the poverty line, and, for the most part, attend under-served schools. Without outside active support, these schools struggle to provide educational resources for their STEM/STEAM classes and professional development for their teachers. A solid STEM education that fosters critical thinking and creativity benefits all students and their families to come; it benefits our local businesses who look to our graduates for their workforce; and, it benefits our city as a place where businesses want to relocate.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Pre-then-post surveys are 2BCF's primary form of evaluation, measuring expectations against results. The pre-survey is conducted before the SLM is in place, and the post-survey at the end of the academic year, giving 2BCF staff the opportunity to take appropriate corrective action. The positive impact of the SLM on student attitudes toward STEM is evident in some of the student responses, for example:

What I learn in science class doesn't have much to do with the real world.

Pre - 58% Strongly agree

Post - 15% Strongly agree

I believe I am going to fail science this year.

Pre - 52% Strongly agree

Post - 10% Strongly agree

2BCF's vision of success is that up to 13,000 students each year from these 20 schools will become increasingly proficient at STEAM/STEM, continue their education and have meaningful careers.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

Arts education

High school graduation rates

Proficiency in STEM

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support