Course fees that make sense for the market, instructors, IG, and scholarships

Hi. There has been a lot of discussion about course fees since September. Edu and the board should be in conversation about this issue. Discuss

I think our pricing needs to be competitive. And that we can use some of the money we make to offer scholarships. This is how I’ve seen other orgs do it.

I was looking a while ago at a commercial organization in Rochester whose business is teaching classes similar to ours. Unfortunately, I can’t find them online right now.

Their set-up looked to be 1-hour classes, roughly $15+materials per student, and they paid their instructors $5/student/class. They also offered discounts (sometimes steep) for paying members (e.g., you pay a $100/year membership, you get 25% off classes). They only offer classes, so there’s no benefit to membership other than class discounts. They also have a minimum class size of 4, and they will cancel classes if it doesn’t get that many people. This means that instructors are guaranteed to be paid at least $20/class, perhaps more if it’s popular, and the remaining $10/student goes to the company.

While this fee structure may not be suitable for us exactly as is, I’d like to see something like it considered for discussion.

Thanks Buddha.

I offer here some budget sheets from an org in NYC that does tech training for teachers who, in turn, participate with their students in a competition hosted by the same org. It’s a marketable model. Esp if we focus our competition on sustainable tech…

I know that Ithaca isn’t NYC. We’d kick ass with 1/2 this budget but the ratios are good to look at…

@Mark_Zifchock @jenn @laurence @Jen_Westling

Can you pull out from those sheets the info you want to highlight? It looks to me like they don’t make any money from tech training or the competitions and all their income comes from grants and donations. That may be a marketable model, but it doesn’t seem to be the model you are proposing.

@jenn and I are meeting w mickie on saturday and will report back

I really like the idea of adapting something like this as a program that is part of IG. I think it’s reasonable to expect that there would be grants and donations available for this kind of thing, especially if you targeted at-risk youth and made it about teaching tech and sustainability at the same time. I’m not sure it can be counted on as a way of sustaining IG as a whole, however. I would think that the budget for these kind of programs are expected to stay self-contained.

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For me, much of these questions as to how to maintain a stable makerspace are tied up in what we want out of our space and what our vision is for its future. Have we as an organization come up with a vision for the space and an over-all mission? What type/size of maker space are we? Do we want to eventually be large enough to have staff members? Are we dedicated to a particular mission of education/sustainability/access or are we really more interested in maintaining a small space for ourselves to work/play while paying the bills with regular classes?

I really think these questions need to be answered before we can decide how to be a sustainable space. Being a non-profit with a clear mission can be very helpful in terms of getting grants for projects or general operating expenses, and walking into local businesses and convincing them to invest in what we do. I’m not sure that there are any maker spaces in a market like ours that sustains themselves fully on class income alone.

I came across this:

which I’m sure some of you have probably seen. Some of it will not apply to us and much of it I am sure has already been considered and tabled for one reason or another. If we’re talking about finding a way to sustain the space by charging reasonable fees for classes, however, the class paragraph seems very applicable. And directly under that section is an interesting section on Grants and Donations.

There are also “classes” like these:

offered by much larger makerspaces that address the successful sustainable operation of a makerspace and the form it can take. I really think that our space is in a spot where we could benefit from a class like this.

What do you all think? Am I missing the boat? Do we have a clear mission and goal that we can pull programming and general funding requests around? Do we have a clear idea about exactly what we want our makerspace to be now and what we want it to be five years from now?

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My gut tells me to stay where we are at membership wise and levereage programming for grants with the idea that the space then exists for people who take classes and become makers (that will be a small percentage but that’s how these things work). The trick is to not let programming eat up too much time in the space - we still need time/space for members to work on projects.

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I’m not talking so much about growing our organization in terms of membership. I’m talking about growing it into a focused self-sustaining model that allows all of us to still fulfill our needs as members while staying financially stable.

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