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Made@Dent PPE: Empowering under-resourced youth to build PPE at home and earn for their families

Dent is doing Dent: empowering under-resource youth to be creative problem solvers, makers, and entrepreneurs (right now, it's making PPE).

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What is the need are you focusing on?

Firstly, we are making life-saving PPE (starting with face shields) for those on the front lines. In 2 weeks, we have engaged over 20 students who have made over 3,000 face shields, which are already being used by Maryland healthcare workers. 

We’re also addressing the acute economic need felt by individuals and communities who have been systemically oppressed and under resourced by creating a valuable stream of weekly income. Denters, high schoolers of Baltimore City Public Schools, make the face shields at home and earn $1 for each unit they produce (can make 15-30 face shields per hour). For some of our students, this is the only stream of income their family currently has (while unemployment benefits and small biz stimuli are also left unseen).

Beyond the immediate, just as Dent’s mission reads, we are building a more just, resilient future by empowering under-resourced youth to discover and develop their innate creative potential to shape the world around them. 

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing an actual pivot your organization has already made

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

Our programs focus on design thinking, making, and entrepreneurship. We enable students to build stuff, create & capture value, and make a dent. In Made@Dent, students design, fabricate, and sell custom promotional products to local organizations. We have pivoted this program with two big changes: 1) we are now producing PPE, not swag, and 2) students will make at home, rather than meeting in the makerspace. In 2 weeks, we’ve actually pivoted. We’ve engaged 11 volunteers to drive and deliver Supply Kits to students’ homes, 26 students have created over 3,000 face shields, we’ve built a digital system to track the entire operation, set up an 8,000 sqft manufacturing HQ, and are on pace to make 50,000 face shields in the next 2 months. We’ll also use this infrastructure to engage & empower students beyond this rapid response. We’ve already prototyped at-home face mask creation (sewn & thermoformed) and sticker making for behavioral nudges to encourage physical distancing.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

This initiative is a microcosm of what a reimagined, more equitable, more connected, and more innovative society could look like. The ripple effects will definitely materialize locally, but it also has the potential for much broader impact, if given the platform. The healthcare worker who can’t help but feel fear when being coughed on all day will feel and be more safe as we produce and deliver 50,000 face shields in the next two months. The supermarket staff or bank workers (who cannot wear covering face masks) who show up to work everyday, knowing they are at increased risk, will be able to return home less worried. The curve in our community will flatten. In making these 50,000 face shields, students will earn $50,000 to support their families through this crisis. More importantly, they will experience their potential to be makers and problem solvers. To be leaders, when our leaders fail us. To realize their ability to make a dent in the world around them.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Dent Education

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

Dent Education’s mission is to promote equity by empowering under-resourced youth to discover and develop their innate creative potential to shape the world around them. We run programs based on design thinking, making, and entrepreneurship. Students collaborate, build, solve problems, and create value. They develop the skills & mindsets to thrive and lead, not just in the 21st century, but amidst this pandemic. We serve high schoolers in Baltimore City Public Schools -- young people who are hard working, creative, and resilient, but who also fight systemic inequities, daily. We believe in empowerment through education, but also economic empowerment; students earn money in all of our programs (directly, business profits, or seed funding).

What is your profession?

I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Dent Education, but I'd like to think of myself as a Denter and as an educator.

Where are you located (country)?

United States of America

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Business/Consulting
  • Designer(UX/CX/Design Research)
  • Education
  • Entrepreneur/Investor
  • Manufacturing
  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy
  • Technology

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • 2-5 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Nonprofit/NGO

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Funding- Investment
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

Partnerships to help sustain operations of the Made@Dent: PPE program, but also connect our products to the market need. More broadly, our organization is built off of partnerships across industries and geographies; our network of creative problem solvers is a big asset, and we want to continue to build and grow it.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

- Money for supplies and operational costs - Not being able to accurately forecast production rates/ supply to match demand - Not generating enough demand to purchase all inventory - Larger manufacturers ramping up production and pricing us out (we are very low cost, are even donating units now, and are already prototyping for what comes after face shields) - Not enough people or dedicated hours to run the operation (reduction of volunteer hours) - Safety concerns require halting operations

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

We have been reminded of the power of the Dent Mindsets, especially amidst crisis. We saw the problem as an opportunity to leverage our resources and help out, we asked why things are being done the way they are and how we could innovate on the PPE supply chain, we listened deeply to our students to understand how we can best support them in this time, we took action to rapidly get things done, we’ve been iterating and learning as we build and grow, and we have seen the power of “we” and community.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

Our entire operation is an example of collaboration. Our HQ is an in-kind mfg space, Hack Baltimore builders have created a Airtable that tracks our entire supply chain and production operation, folks have donated everything from gloves to sanitizers to a printer, we are part of Makers United (a Baltimore-made PPE effort), we have over 30 volunteers who have signed up, we’ve received hundreds of small donations to help order materials and set up up the operation, etc. etc.!

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Attachments (2)

Dent Mindsets.pdf

The Dent Mindsets are the core of our organization -- it's not only what we teach, but how we aspire to act ourselves. As all of the Mindsets start with "We", the sixth (hidden) mindset is "We start with we", which nods to the power of community and collaboration.

Made@Dent Face Shield 3 Product Specifications.pdf

Product Specification sheet for our face shield


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