Salinas Community Science Workshop is the 8th CSW to join the Global Alliance of Community Science Workshops. The original CSW was in the garage of Dan Sudran in the Mission district of San Francisco and is still going strong today at Mission High School.
The road to opening Salinas CSW was long and rocky. Staff from San Francisco, Watsonville, and Greenfield CSWs carried out a variety of pilot programming in the Alisal for several years leading up to 2020. They found the kids ready for action, but adults were slow in waking up to the possibilities. During the first year of the pandemic, Greenfield CSW served Alisal schools with Bags Full of Science kits and teacher training, and carried out several programs during the summer of 2021.
In early 2021 we received a seed grant from the Founder’s Fund at the Mission Science Workshop in San Francisco for a kick start. That spring the principal of El Sausal Middle School, Salinas Union High School District, Mr. Francisco Huerta, generously offered us a modest space. Salinas CSW opened its doors on August 1, 2021 and held a grand opening on October 16 of that year. By January 2022 we’d served up nearly 2000 science experiences!
We get non-profit status through Community Initiatives. Our funding comes from two sources: grants and donations from individuals, foundations and businesses; and contracts for services to local schools and other agencies. We’re in need of more support! The demand is great, and we need funding for staff and materials to meet the demand.
We believe every kid needs tools in their hands, that a good education requires every kid get access to tools, materials and a wide variety of phenomena in a free environment where they can explore following their own curiosity and questions. Many families in the Alisal community aren’t able to access such spaces, thus the need for a Community Science Workshop.
Salinas CSW is flexible in its programs and seeks to offer what the community needs in the areas of education and youth development through experiential science activities. We also offer kids serious opportunities to learn key skills and have experiences critical to prepare to enter the STEM workforce. We can connect them to other programs – Digital Nest, FabLab, CET, Hartnell, CSUMB – that can give them in-depth and focused STEM career preparation.
Aside from the promotion of STEM, we believe that the opportunity to use tools, manipulate materials, and freely explore the world with science leads to personal understanding that is immensely valuable and deeply satisfying no matter what career or life path a person ultimately takes. We’ve seen that understanding what science is and how it works leads to healthy, happy kids and adults