Build Your Dreams was the slogan that changed everything for Marc Roth, a former homeless man who now runs his own hardware company called SF Laser.
Now Roth wants to pay it forward with The Learning Shelter, a program that by gives homeless people the opportunity to learn hardware skills that are useful for stability and independence.
Roth, who is originally from Las Vegas, was living in various homeless shelters and out of his car in San Francisco in 2011. He saw a flier for TechShop in the trashcan, and the tagline “Build Your Dreams” caught his eye. Using the last amount of money he had, Roth spent $50 on a TechShop membership to build his dreams.
TechShop, where our San Francisco office is located, is a membership-based maker space that provides tools, classes, and equipment for do-it-yourself projects. Roth learned how to 3D print, CNC machine, and laser cut, and after being a member for a year, he was able start up SF Laser.
The Learning Shelter is Roth’s campaign to recruit homeless people, getting them off the streets and into a maker space where they will participate in an intense schedule of classes and skill application. The space will also include 90 days worth of free accommodations and adequate shower and restroom facilities.
A board of nine people are helping Roth run The Learning Shelter by recruiting product designers and makers who can help the students with their free TechShop membership and 20 free classes.
The campaign, which is currently accepting donations and help on IndieGoGo, is backed by TechShop founder Mark Hatch, who believes that all people can garner the skills to become a maker. This belief is the reason why TechShop offers free membership to veterans, many of whom are homeless.
Roth is talking with several shelters, asking them to nominate people who are 18 or older and exhibit an interest in technology and hardware. By the end of the 90-day program, Roth hopes to network and connect students with jobs, as well as hire within his own company.
With 13 days left, only 8% of Roth’s desired funds have been reached. However, it’s definitely not too late to donate to a cause that seeks to fix San Francisco’s homelessness problem and strengthen the maker community.