FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CHANTILLY, VA. (Jan. 26, 2017) — The YouthQuest Foundation is proud to announce that its 3D ThinkLink Initiative has reached a significant milestone.
With December’s graduations, a total of 200 Youth ChalleNGe Academy students have completed the course in 3D design and printing, which helps at-risk teenagers develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, creativity and confidence.
“3D design and printing is a means to an important end, and that end is to grow our brains,” says YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks. “It’s really a thinking class more than a 3D printing class.”
YouthQuest launched the 3D ThinkLink Initiative at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in early 2013. Later that year, the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy joined, followed by South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy in 2014. The National Guard runs the residential academies where high school dropouts get a second chance to turn their lives around.
3D ThinkLink students at ChalleNGe Academies learn to use CAD (computer-aided design) software and 3D printers during 30 hours of classroom instruction and labs. They are also required to complete a four-hour community service project and eight hours of Vocational Orientation at universities and businesses where 3D printing is used.
The Foundation awards scholarships every six months to the students who write the best essays about how the 3D ThinkLink experience affected them personally.
The top graduates are invited to attend a week of advanced training in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in Chantilly, Virginia. The most qualified lab students can continue to explore 3D design and printing by serving as Youth Mentors to drive positive change in their communities. YouthQuest provides the equipment and training for Youth Mentors to share what they’ve learned with their family, friends and neighbors.
In 3D ThinkLink classes, at-risk teens that used to give up in frustration when facing setbacks discover how to learn from their mistakes. When a print fails, they evaluate design problems, make improvements and try again until they’re satisfied. The skills and values they develop will help them achieve their goals no matter what career path they choose.
The most important lesson 3D ThinkLink students learn is that, in 3D printing and in life, failure is not the end; it’s a step on the way to success.
Building on the success of the project at Youth ChalleNGe Academies, YouthQuest has expanded the 3D ThinkLink Initiative to reach more youth programs.
The PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families began 3D ThinkLink classes for high school students with autism at its school in Annandale, Virginia, last year. PHILLIPS soon will launch classes at its Fairfax campus.
YouthQuest has provided summer enrichment 3D programs in Virginia at Horizons Hampton Roads and the Culmore Boys & Girls Club.
The Foundation also conducted workshops to introduce more than 70 students from across the U.S. and Canada to 3D printing at the 41st Annual Convention of the National Society of Black Engineers in Anaheim, California.
The YouthQuest Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Chantilly, Virginia, provides academic and vocational development, infrastructure support and life-enriching experiences for America’s at-risk youth. It was founded in 2005 by Allen O. Cage, Jr. and Lynda Mann with the core mission of addressing two critical issues: the stubbornly high dropout rate for the nation’s teens and the shortage of young workers who have the skills today’s employers need.
YouthQuest is eager to connect with corporate partners and individual donors so that more at-risk youth can experience the life-changing benefits of the 3D ThinkLink Initiative.
Steve Pendlebury, Communications Director