The youth innovation hub Made in Brownsville (MiB) is launching “The Labs,” a 1,750-square-foot community design center in Brownsville this Friday.
The Labs, located at 47 Belmont Avenue, is the first trans-disciplinary youth creative agency and production lab in Brownsville. The new design facility provides space for co-working and production, and also includes a media lab which will offer services such as logo design, web development, product design and fabrication, videography and more.
Launched in 2013 by Brownsville native Quardean Lewis-Allen, the organization tackles youth unemployment of disconnected youth in Brownsville, which is amongst the highest in NYC, by providing a pathway to design and technology careers.
Lewis, a Harvard graduate, wanted to create the space he missed in his community when he was growing up as an aspiring designer.
“I want for my community the same access to cutting-edge technology and mentorship as provided by top tier academic institutions,” he said.
Today, the organization’s core programs offer a variety of public workshops as well as a paid STEAM apprenticeship for 14- to 24-year-olds. Past participants have worked on projects that activated vacant spaces, and promoted local businesses and wellness initiatives throughout the neighborhood.
“Before MiB, I didn’t really have a sense of direction,” said D’angelo Heyward, a recent alum and now full-time employee of the program. His capstone project included creating merchant spotlight interviews for the “Be On Belmont Campaign” to promote and revive the corridor. “I’m able to serve my community in ways I hadn’t thought about.”
The Labs’ grand opening will also kick off “Creative Fridays,” a series of open house events designed to cultivate East Brooklyn’s creative community and to build a support network for aspiring and practicing creatives. Creative Fridays will take place every third Friday of the month and include youth-led workshops, open mics, interactive art and games, refreshments and fellowship.
Friday’s opening celebration is sold out but to get free tickets for future Creative Fridays events, go here.