We are so thankful for all of our supporters this year. It’s been an amazing year for many reasons, and we couldn’t have done it without our members, volunteers and supporters who are the engines that make the all the Forge gears move.

Thank you!


NOTE: This is still under construction!

An Overview

The Forge Initiative, and it's Cary location of The Forge Downtown @Hopewell, just finished its 6th year -- with 70 member families and over 130 K-16 students in year-round programs. The Forge Initiative is a "By Members, For Members" organization that is volunteer-run and staffed.

2016 was the first full year that we were able to work and play in a publicly accessible building as we leased a wing at Hopewell Academy in Cary. Having a public location with several rooms has been a huge step forward for us, and we learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work in terms of membership, volunteering, and being more visible. It also gave us a chance to expand the opportunities for families and individuals of all ages to explore, learn and lead in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

See the highlights below:

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Programming Highlights

The Forge Downtown, our Cary location, had several new programming areas in 2016. These included a joint project with IEEE and specific youth leadership programs. 2016 also marked the inaugural Community Chain Reaction event, open to the public.

STEM Outreach And Student-Built Humanoid Robot

Wednesday evenings were a special time at The Forge this year, with a year-long Humanoid Robot Program funded by the IEEE Foundation. Engineers from IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) worked with our mentors, interested parents, middle schoolers, high schoolers, faculty and students from ECPI and undergraduates and graduate students from NCSU, who got together every week for a year to explore the amazing world of humanoid robots - how they recognize faces, carry on conversations, move their heads and arms and eyes. At the end of each Wednesday program, everyone got together to share what they’d worked on, and what they’d learned.

Our students and volunteers introduced humanoid robots to over 6000 people this year. Two year-olds through to senior citizens got a chance to interact with Ken and Kendra, talking with them, finding out about what makes them work. By the way, Ken’s favorite food? Computer chips. And please don’t ask him to sing. He only knows “A Bicycle Built for Two” -- every single word from every verse in a robotic monotone!

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Competitive Robotics

Competitive robotics is the entry to STEAM for a large number of our students from K-12, and for many parents and adult volunteers. Not only do competitive robotics leagues provide huge range of skills in engineering, technology, coding and collaboration, they’re also a great way for volunteers to give back within a known structure. The Forge supports competitive robotics at the member level, within our local community, and at the State level.

Within The Forge Downtown: This year, The Forge Downtown hosted 12 member-run robotics teams, with team members ranging in age from 5 to 18 yo. Parent and volunteer-led teams had the benefit of shared resources and a community of other teams and coaches to work with. Team members were able to work with other teams, build their mentoring skills across teams and ages, and learn the benefits of collaborating with other teams.

Within the Triangle: The Forge Downtown supported the local robotics community and raised the bar for all with train-the-trainer workshops and monthly coffees for coaches. With the support of Cary Towne Center, The Forge youth leaders and volunteers also organized pre-competition scrimmages for different robotics leagues for 42 teams from around the area. The scrimmages provided a place where teams could do practice competitions and learn from each other.

Within the State: A strong competitive robotics league requires a strong state presence. The Forge Downtown’s members (adults and youth) volunteered at State level Kick-offs, qualifiers and state level competitions. Youth leaders and adults volunteered as organizers, area leads, workshop presenters, refs and judges.

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STEAM for Everyone: Community Chain Reactions

2016 marked our First Annual Community Chain Reaction.


Youth Leadership Program

Youth Empowerment HUB

This year we initiated a new program for our youth leaders. Though only a prototype year, the HUB, an entrepreneurial leadership program, shows a lot of potential in its impact. The program is designed to allow our middle school through college-aged students to take advantage of the skills and abilities they've gained by giving them the opportunity to develop programs, services and products in a mentor and resource-rich supportive environment.

This year’s HUB resulted in “Girls Build It!” Shop camps, Technical Drawing camps, workshops on 3D printing for families and for senior citizens, building custom computers -- and 3D printers, Rube Goldberg Minecraft, and The Wonderful World of Wrobots!

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Youth Leadership through Camps

Camps are not only a great way to bring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) to youth in the community, but they also provide a variety of leadership opportunities for Forge students. Campers are inspired by the positive role models of teen camp counselors. Our camp counselors take a variety of leadership roles from designing the full week curriculum with a team of peers, to leading small groups of campers, developing teaching and mentoring techniques, and learning the importance of role modeling.

This year, 7 of our high school students had a chance to partner with MetLife’s Black Professional Network to provide a camp on MetLife's Cary campus. Despite having less than 2 weeks notice, these youth pulled together a full 5-day camp, full of collaboration skill building, robot building and programming, and 3D printing for 16 middle school campers. Many thanks to MetLife for providing scholarships to those campers who wouldn't have been able to attend without some support.

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Our Youth Leadership program also ran 2 week-long camps with the Town of Cary, each one reaching youth in the community and providing a wide variety of leadership opportunities for our students. The camps were modeled after FIRST LEGO League competitions, with opportunities for robot design and programming; research into real world problems, and focusing on team core values.

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Youth Leadership through Community Engagement

Community engagement continues to be an area where our student volunteers make a big difference in the community. Forge youth as young as 6, took hands-on STEAM demos of 3D printers, humanoid robots and other technology fun to :

  • Google Fiber’s Tech-n-Treat in Raleigh
  • Marbles Kids Museum STEAM extravaganza
  • NC Life and Science Museum's Engineers Day
  • Wake County Public Library Summer Programs
  • RARSFest (Raleigh Amateur Radio Society Festival)
  • Triangle Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America
  • Cary Amateur Radio Club

The Forge Downtown partnered with Marbles Kids Museum for two different Kids Code events, with elementary through high school students working with Lenovo to provide Scratch coding opportunities. And they partnered with the Museum of Life and Science to provide a family-focused 3D printing exploratory program.

In each case, families in the community were inspired by technology and seeing engaged K-12 peers bring technology and engineering to their spaces. Our youth had a chance to gain the confidence of bringing their knowledge to others, practicing the improv needed to work with the public, and mentor other students along the way.

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Youth Leadership: Career Preparation

With a growing reputation for STEAM programs, The Forge Downtown has become a center for feeding the Triangle talent pipeline. Through the Forge, 4 youth found summer technology and engineering positions. Y

Blake / Rose / Mo / Isaac

Kayla, Miki, Naina

Make Me Professional!

The D-ELL Learning Model

Education - NCSU/Friday Institute, D-ELL, Bridging the Gap,

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Internal Resources

18,000 vounteer hours
thanks to Cisco employees
first 2 part time staff

partners: someone