For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


PHILADELPHIA, November 20, 2015—The Free Library of Philadelphia is honored to have been awarded a 21st Century Solutions grant from NBC10, Telemundo62, and NBCUniversal Foundation to support its innovative Maker Jawn Initiative. A unique mashup of creativity and scientific exploration, the Maker Jawn Initiative—launched in 2013 and operating in underserved neighborhoods in North Philadelphia—introduces and engages Philadelphians in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)-based projects aimed to help them understand and become inspired by electronics and computing through imaginative tinkering.

This innovative program of the Free Library of Philadelphia brings a team of artists, engineers, designers, and thinkers to work in libraries, creating “Maker spaces.” These unique spaces enable Library users to gain access to technology and participatory education, and encourage creative applications and collaborative projects. The program is designed to meet the needs and interests of communities in North Philadelphia, where fewer than 2 percent of adults are employed in scientific and technical fields.

Past Maker projects at the Free Library have included paper circuitry, in which participants created personalized, light-up postcards using paper circuits and LEDs, and e-textiles, in which participants honed their electronics knowledge and their fashion sense by sewing microcontrollers to LEDs using conductive thread. Maker Jawn has been acknowledged nationally as an exemplary program, with staff members invited to present at formal convenings such as the American Library Association’s 2014 Annual Conference. The program was also featured on the November cover of GRID magazine

“The Free Library’s Maker Jawn Initiative is a model of how we are using libraries to advance 21st-century skills,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director. “We are grateful to NBC10, Telemundo62, and NBCUniversal Foundation for supporting our vision and helping us encourage learning, tinkering, creating, and sharing through this unique program.”

The Library was one of three nonprofit organizations awarded a total of $100,000 as part of the 21st Century Solutions grant challenge, which supports impactful programs that offer bold, new ideas that move communities forward.

Additional information about this program can be found at www.

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The 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 6 million in-person and millions more online visits annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850