The YouthQuest Foundation Year in Review: 2016

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks with students in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab

The YouthQuest Foundation reached a milestone in serving at-risk youth as 2016 came to an end.

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy 3D ThinkLink students graduate December 2016
3D ThinkLink students graduate from Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, December 2016

“With December’s graduations in Maryland, South Carolina and Washington, DC, 200 Youth ChalleNGe Academy Cadets now have completed our 3D ThinkLink training,” said YouthQuest Co-Founder and President, Lynda Mann. “It’s been a joy to watch this project grow during the past four years.”

The 3D ThinkLink Initiative helps students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, creativity and confidence as they learn about 3D design and printing. The knowledge they gain gives our graduates an advantage in the tech-driven job market where demand for 3D design and printing skills is growing fast. Most important, they learn that failure is not final – a lesson that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

YouthQuest launched the project 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.

Advanced students assemble JellyBox 3D printer kits in the 3D Thinklink Creativity Lab January 2016
Lab Week January 2016

This year began with eight top graduates participating in a week of advanced training at our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in Chantilly, Virginia. They did hands-on research evaluating 3D scanners and assembling JellyBox 3D printer kits.

Our training for all ChalleNGe Cadets includes a four-hour community service project and a full day of Vocational Orientation visits to businesses and schools where 3D design and printing is used. This year’s destinations included some old favorites such as 3D Systems and the University of Maryland’s Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab, as well as new ones such as The Foundery and Under Armour’s Lighthouse innovation center in Baltimore.

“Being involved in 3D ThinkLink makes me think about the different opportunities I have,” said Freestate grad Josh Nembhard. “Being here gives you a better chance of going somewhere, for example, college or getting a job.”

Our new Youth Mentor Program offers graduates the opportunity to continue their 3D ThinkLInk experience by sharing what they’ve learned with their family, friends and neighbors. Beginning with Immersion Lab Week in January 2017, we will provide the equipment and training for our most qualified students to drive positive change in their communities by serving as Youth Mentors. Funding for the program launched this summer is already halfway to the $15,000 goal.

3D ThinkLink students at Vocational Orientation at University of Maryland Biomaterials Lab
Vocational Orientation at University of Maryland Biomaterials Lab

We also encourage our graduates to continue their education by awarding scholarships to those who write the best essays about how our training has affected them personally.  Four students earned $500 scholarships in 2016; Trevon Ahl and Alycia Freeman from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, and Brock Jasmann and Aunya’ Jones from Freestate ChalleNGe Academy.

“3D printing has helped guide me into making better decisions and gave me a new life skill along the way. It has really helped me understand my self-worth because now I know I can design my own future,” Aunya’ wrote in her award-winning essay. “I now see the bigger picture to my life’s problems and I’m not afraid to face them.”

PHILLIPS AND HORIZONS

Building on the success of our work with Youth ChalleNGe Academies, YouthQuest expanded the 3D ThinkLink Initiative to reach more youth programs in 2016

The PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families began semester-long 3D ThinkLink classes for high school students on the autism spectrum as well as those with mental health issues at its school in Annandale, Virginia, in the spring and will launch classes at its Fairfax campus in early 2017. 

“It’s made a big difference to our staff and to our students,” PHILLIPS Career Partners Director Lindsay Harris said. “These are students that have failed often in the classroom and they don’t always have the confidence that they can learn and be successful. This program really gives them that.”

According to the PHILLIPS Program Final Evaluation Report, the spring pilot program was a success, especially in the areas of student engagement, curriculum implementation and staff support. Lynda Mann credited the excellent work done by the PHILLIPS staff, especially teachers Samuel Son, Jim Field and Marcel Baynes.

“Their ability to recognize the innate creativity in these special-needs youth, and to use the 3D ThinkLink curriculum as a valuable way for the students to express themselves creatively while facilitating growth in critical thinking and problem solving, was brilliant,” she said. 

3D ThinkLink also took root and started growing in Virginia’s Tidewater region this year. We trained teachers and provided the curriculum and materials for Horizons Hampton Roads to run 3D classes for sixth graders as part of its six-week summer enrichment program.

This fall, teacher Franklin Baker used what he learned during the summer to create a course for older students. Horizons’ High School Scholars successfully completed their 3D class in December.

A REWARDING YEAR

2016 Step Up Loudoun Youth winning teams
2016 Step Up winning teams

2016 was the fifth straight year YouthQuest sponsored the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition.  The event organized by Louduon Youth, Inc. challenges middle school and high school students to identify problems in Loudoun County, Virginia, and create solutions. Local business and civic leaders judge the projects and YouthQuest donates most of the prize money.

This year’s Step Up contest drew more entries than ever and we hope for an even larger field of competitors in 2017.

This year’s many accomplishments would not be possible without YouthQuest’s generous supporters.

The Challenge at Trump National Golf Club August 2016
The Challenge at Trump National

The annual golf tournament was our most successful fundraiser. There were more sponsors than ever and more than 100 players took part in the event on August 8 at Trump National Golf Club’s Championship Course in Potomac Falls, Virginia, recently named one of Golf Digest’s best new private courses.  

At the annual VIP Reception a few days before the tournament, we recognized AOC’s Valerie Hightower as our 2016 Volunteer of the Year. The 2016 Community Partner Award went to Duncan-Parnell, Inc. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington received the 2016 Strategic Partner Award.  

Lynda Mann with Volunteer of the Year Valerie Hightower August 2016
Lynda Mann with Volunteer of the Year Valerie Hightower

Donors stepped up during the golf tournament and VIP Reception to get the ball rolling on funding the Youth Mentor Program.

Our participation for the first time in #GivingTuesday, a global celebration of charity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, also gave our year-end fundraising a boost.

Contributions are welcome at any time of year, of course. Please click here or contact Operations Manager Juan Louro, who joined us on the first workday of 2016, at juan.louro@youthquestfoundation.org or 703-234-6300.

The Year in Pictures

Scholarship Winners Pursue Their College Dreams

3D ThinkLink instructor Charles Johnson awards scholarships to essay competetion winners (l-r) Emilee Bray, Kimora Felton and Kathaleen Polanco at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduation December 9, 2015

Three young women who earned scholarships in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink essay competition are taking the next steps toward their career goals.

Emilee Bray, Kimora Felton and Kathaleen Polanco each won $500 for writing about their experiences in our 3D design and printing classes at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

After graduating from SCYCA in December, Kathaleen started the new year by enrolling in South Carolina’s Aiken Technical College while Emilee and Kimora traveled to Chantilly, Virginia for a week of advanced training in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab.

3D ThinkLink student Kathaleen Polanco visits 3D Systems in Rock Hill, SC, for Vocational Orientation October 22, 2015
Kathaleen Polanco at 3D Systems in Rock Hill, South Carolina for Vocational Orientation

“Before South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, I was a mess,” Kathaleen confessed.

Her young life took a dramatic turn last April when she was shot while partying with friends. By year’s end, she had completed the 22-week residential program at SCYCA, which included our 3D ThinkLink training.

“I can proudly say I’m clean and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” Kathaleen said. “I honestly finally feel at peace with life.”

In her essay, she described 3D class as “an escape … where I can be in my own little place, a place where I can design any and everything.”

Kathaleen gave credit to our Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks, for encouraging her to continue her education.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Emilee Brays designs a ring during immersion training week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab January 5, 2016
Emilee Bray designs a ring during 3D ThinkLink Immersion Lab Week

“Tom inspired me to be a better me and never give up no matter how hard life gets,” wrote Kathaleen, who is studying computer networking.

Emilee joined Kathaleen at Aiken Tech immediately after the week of immersion training in our lab. She plans to graduate in May with CNA (certified nursing assistant), electrocardiogram and phlebotomy certificates. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse anesthetist.

“3D printing is starting to get popular now, especially in the nursing field,” Emilee explained. “If I were to tell them that I went through this kind of program, there’s no doubt that I would get that job!”

Besides strengthening her resume, the 3D ThinkLink experience taught her how to think through problems and overcome obstacles.

“It’s not just in 3D printing that you learn from your mistakes. It’s in life that you learn from your mistakes,” said Emilee.

Kimora agreed that our classes helped her learn to think in new ways.

SDouth Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Kimora Felton sets up a 3D printer in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab during immersion training week January 5, 2016
Kimora Felton sets up a 3D printer in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab

“Before getting involved with 3D printing, my mind was scattered,” she recalled in her essay. “Trying to relieve anger and finding ways to express myself, I’d do things that made me act out of character, which led me to think I wasn’t worth anything at all.”

Kimora said 3D ThinkLink gave her a new way to express herself and boosted her self-esteem.

Like Emilee, she hopes to use her 3D skills on the job. Kimora, who wants to be a veterinarian, is enrolled in the Veterinary Assistant program at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, South Carolina.

She was inspired by the video she watched in class about Derby, a dog born with deformed front legs who is able to walk thanks to 3D-printed prosthetic legs.

“Involving 3D printing into this field will give deformed, damaged or diseased animals that are on the verge of being euthanized a second chance,” Kimora wrote in her scholarship-winning essay.

CLICK HERE to read the complete essays

Students Do Real Research in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Lab

Advanced 3D ThinkLink students assemble JellyBox 3D printer kits during immersion lab week in January 2016

Eight young people who spent a week in our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab this month learned new skills and took part in hands-on research that will benefit other 3D printing enthusiasts.

“Not only did our students broaden their 3D design and printing experience by exploring the complexities of full-color 3D printing workflows, they provided valuable early feedback for the developers and manufacturers of two new 3D technologies,” said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks.

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Amadou Abakar watches his 3D design take shape on a Cube 2 printer during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
Amadou Abakar watches his 3D design take shape on a Cube 2 printer

They were selected for Lab Week because of their outstanding performance in the latest cycle of 3D ThinkLink classes at National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies serving South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia. YouthQuest provides the equipment, curriculum and training for the residential academies to help at-risk teens develop critical thinking and problem solving skills through 3D design and printing.

It was the largest group so far to receive 40 hours of advanced training in our Chantilly, Virginia, facility. Unlike the typical maker space, the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab is dedicated solely to 3D design, scanning and printing. It is a true laboratory environment designed to promote comparative analysis and develop creative solutions.

The students were the first to experience the lab’s new 3D scanning and printing capabilities, and the first to assemble a unique 3D printer kit.

Going With the Workflow

The week began with an introduction to Cubify Sculpt, a type of 3D design software the students had never tried.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate John Smith uses Cubify Sculpt to design a monster's head printer during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
John Smith uses Cubify Sculpt to design the head for a monster figurine

In their classes at school, they used Moment of Inspiration (MoI), a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program that turns two-dimensional shapes into three-dimensional objects. Sculpt is an organic modeling program in which the students begin with a 3D object and modify it in all sorts of creative ways, as if digitally sculpting a piece of virtual clay.

Step-by-step, they worked their way through the process of designing simple objects such as personalized rings using MoI and Sculpt. Now that every lab workstation is equipped with a Cube 2 printer – thanks to a generous donation from our strategic partner, 3D Systems – it was easy for the students to run test prints so they could quickly evaluate and improve their designs.

“As I began making the images and creating stuff I started to realize that this is a game-changer. It was amazing to me because I never even worked with this type of material before,” said South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA) graduate John Smith. “It helped me realize my passion for art and my talent is there … and I can use it to help other people.”

Once they got a feel for organic modeling, the students took turns making 3D scans of each other and learned how Sculpt fits into the workflow of preparing the files for printing. Then they were able to create full-color mini-busts of themselves using the lab’s recently acquired Z450 powder bed printer.

Evaluating 3D Scanners

Amadou Abakar scans Nate Sydnor while the Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduates evaluate 3D scanners during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
Amadou Abakar scans Nate Sydnor with a RealSense-equipped tablet

The students tested and evaluated two kinds of handheld 3D scanning devices: the 3D Systems Sense and an HP tablet with Intel’s RealSense technology.

They experimented with various scanning techniques and lighting conditions, then conducted a focus group with Tom to discuss their findings.

They found the tablet was easier to use than the Sense, which has no onboard monitor and must be connected to a computer by a cumbersome cable. However, they noted that both devices had trouble capturing images of dark-skinned people.

“Scanning can be aggravating when it messes up and you have to redo it, but it’s still really fun,” said SCYCA grad Emilee Bray.

“It’s cool to have a 3D figure of yourself,” she added. “Nobody I know has that kind of stuff!”

Full-color mini-busts made from 3D scans of Kimora Felton, Nate Sydnor and Emiliee Bray during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
3D-printed busts made from scans of Kimora Felton, Nate Sydnor and Emiliee Bray

The group had several ideas for simplifying the workflow and suggested improvements in the RealSense software’s visual feedback to help users hold the tablet at the proper distance from subjects while scanning.

Their feedback is being shared with the leaders of the Sense for Intel RealSense application development team at 3D Systems.

Assembling 3D Printers

The JellyBox, from iMade3D, is a soon-to-be-released 3D printer kit designed specifically for educational use. Its innovative design makes it easy to put together and take apart so it can be used over and over to teach students how a 3D printer works.

The students paired up to do the first independent evaluation of the JellyBox assembly process. Members of the iMade3D team spent a full day in the lab watching them put together four printers.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Kimora Felton and and Freestate ChalleNGe Academy graduate Josh Nembhard build a JellyBox 3D printer during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
Josh Nembhard and Kimora Felton assemble a JellyBox 3D printer kit

“It was fun. I mean, we messed up several times, but we still finished in a day,” said SCYCA’s Justin Lewis.

“And for every mistake, we learned from it,” added Amadou Abakar, from DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy (CGYCA).

The students had a finished JellyBox to look at, but were given minimal instructions. At first, they all thought it would be difficult to assemble their kits, but the teams quickly gained confidence as they figured out how to put the pieces together.

Kimora Felton from SCYCA was so wrapped up in the project that when it was time for lunch, she didn’t want to stop working.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Emilee Bray and and Freestate ChalleNGe Academy graduate Osman Bah build a JellyBox 3D printer during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
Emilee Bray and Osman Bah build a JellyBox

“I really love making stuff,” she explained. “When something really interests me, I go straight for it.”

“I was really impressed and I loved the energy and the attention the students devoted to the project,” said Filip Goc, the JellyBox’s primary designer, noting that their feedback will be invaluable in perfecting the design and refining the assembly instructions before the product goes on the market.

Osman Bah from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy called the experience “amazing.” He said he’d never expected to meet an inventor like Filip and “see how his mind works.”

“The advice he gave me was to just follow the steps and put your mind to it,” Osman recalled.

“A Life-Changing Experience”

A week of immersion training in our lab taught the students some lessons in life, along with advanced 3D skills.

“I learned how to work with people that I don’t know. I usually don’t like doing that,” said Emilee, who teamed up with Osman to build a JellyBox. “It was interesting getting to know someone while working on a project with them.”

The teams show the JellyBox 3D printers they built during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
The teams show off their JellyBox 3D printers

She discovered that even though they’re from different states and have “a different perspective on everything,” they could put their minds together.

“It did get aggravating at times, but we still worked through it and we still made it,” she said.

“I was proud of us because we worked hard on that thing. We never quit,” added Emilee, who went directly from Lab Week to South Carolina’s Aiken Technical College – the next step in her plan to become a nurse anesthetist.

John, who impressed everyone in the lab with his design talents described our 3D ThinkLink training as “a life-changing experience” that’s given him new skills and tools to help him pursue a career in art.

Justin Lewis, John Smith, Osman Bah, Nate Sydnor and Josh Nembhard compare 3D scanner features during January 2016 immersion week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
(l-r) Justin, John, Osman, Nate and Josh compare 3D scanner features

“Being involved in 3D ThinkLink makes me think about the different opportunities I have. Being here gives you a better chance of going somewhere, for example, college or getting a job,” agreed Josh Nembhard, a Freestate grad who plans to study visual design.

Nate Sydnor from CGYCA also said the experience fueled his passion for art by helping him see things in different ways. In addition, he found it rewarding to participate in the scanning and JellyBox research.

“I can look back on this and say I accomplished something great because we are a part of history. We’re making history,” Nate said.

“I’m involved in something that’s going to impact a lot of people in the future. It makes me feel inspired and motivated,” Osman added.

Amadou, who aspires to be an electrical engineer, recalled that on the first day of Lab Week, the students talked about the aphorism that a koi fish grows bigger when it swims in a larger pond.

“This has been a really big pond for us to grow and learn and develop,” he said. “And this is really important because this isn’t something we’re going to leave here. It’s something we can take with us wherever we go.”

CLICK BELOW TO SEE PHOTO GALLERY

3D Systems Gives YouthQuest 35 3D Printers

35 Cube 2 3D printers donated to YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Initiative by 3D Systems

Santa just made an early delivery to The YouthQuest Foundation. A sleighload of Cube 2 3D printers has arrived from 3D Systems.

“We are so very grateful to 3D Systems for their generosity and continued support of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. They resonate with our educational goal to provide critical thinking and problem solving skills to America’s at-risk youth, particularly high school dropouts,” said YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann. “3D Systems products are the heart of our program, and this generous donation allows us to expand our initiative to more youth who are working to turn their lives around.”

3D ThinkLink students work with a Cube 2 printer in class at DC's Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy
Students work with a Cube 2 printer in class at Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy

“This also gives us the resources to launch a pilot program in 2016 that will provide training for young adults with high-spectrum autism, and we are very excited about the possibilities in the new year,” she added.

The 3D ThinkLink Initiative uses instruction in 3D design and printing as a tool to teach at-risk youth critical thinking and problem solving skills, and to stimulate interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

The Cube 2 is a basic, easy-to-use printer that’s been a workhorse in the 3D ThinkLink Initiative ever since the project began in 2013. So far, YouthQuest has taught nearly 200 young people how to use it to transform their ideas into 3D-printed reality.

Advanced students with Cube 2 printers during immersion week in the 3D ThinkLink Lab
Advanced students with Cube 2 printers during immersion week in the 3D ThinkLink Lab

Having these additional printers at class sites will mean less waiting and more creating for students, who are always eager to see how the objects they design with 3D modeling software turn out when printed. For those who receive advanced training at the 3D ThinkLink Lab in Chantilly, Virginia, there will be a Cube 2 available for every student.

3D Systems is YouthQuest’s strategic partner in the 3D ThinkLink Initiative. Nearly all the equipment in the lab is made by the company – from the consumer-level Cube 2 and Cube 3 machines to professional-grade printers and scanners.

3D Systems also hosts Vocational Orientation tours of its headquarters in Rock Hill for all 3D ThinkLink students from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

Now in its 10th year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, YouthQuest ‘s mission is to provide the resources at-risk youth need to become successful adults. Learn more at www.YouthQuestFoundation.org.

YouthQuest Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Casino Night YouthQuest 10th Anniversary

The YouthQuest Foundation marked its 10th anniversary on October 14 with a Casino Night and Open House to showcase the newly upgraded 3D ThinkLink Lab.

Guests play games at Casino Night celebrating YouthQuest's 10th anniversary
Action in our lobby-turned-casino

The atmosphere was festive as guests played casino games in the lobby of our Chantilly, Virginia, headquarters and enjoyed great food and drinks.

They also got to tour the lab and meet some of the at-risk teens they’re helping by supporting YouthQuest.

Several students from DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy were on hand to show guests what they’re learning in their 3D class.

The 3D ThinkLink Initiative, YouthQuest’s signature STEM education project for at-risk youth, uses 3D design and printing as a vehicle for teaching critical thinking and problem solving skills. We have reached nearly 250 young people since we launched the project three years ago.

Pink Frog 3D printers on display in the 3D ThinkLink Lab during YouthQuest's 10th anniversary celebration
3D printers on display in the lab

Thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners, the 3D ThinkLink Lab is now equipped with a collection of 3D printers and design tools that’s unmatched in the Washington area.

We have created a valuable resource for our advanced students who use the lab for weeklong immersion training sessions, as well as for members of the community who want access to our specialized equipment.

YouthQuest was founded by Lynda Mann and Allen Cage. It was certified by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2005.

We are deeply grateful to all the individuals and organizations that have supported our work through the years and we are excited about doing even more to serve America’s at-risk youth in the years ahead.

Fun, Fundraising at YouthQuest Golf Tournament

Golfers at YouthQuest's 10th Annual Challenge at Trump National Golf Club August 10, 2015

“One day of golf will make a difference for America’s at-risk youth all year long.” YouthQuest supporters just proved that’s more than a slogan for us.

Players, sponsors and volunteers turned out in force in August 10 for the 10th Annual Challenge at Trump National Golf Club.

YouthQuest Co-Founder & President Lynda Mann with Tournament Chairman Bill Hall
YouthQuest Co-Founder & President Lynda Mann with Tournament Chairman Bill Hall

“We couldn’t have had a better event to celebrate our 10th tournament,” said Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann. “The venue, the service, the food, the support of all our participants … We couldn’t have asked for more.”

“During these 10 years, we’ve built a base of sponsors and supporters that understand the importance of our mission to help high school dropouts turn their lives around,” she added.

This year’s tournament will help power the growth of our signature STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education project, the 3D ThinkLink Initiative. Our lessons in 3D design and printing help at-risk kids develop sorely needed critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some of the proceeds from the event will go toward improving our 3D lab. We’re also upgrading our website to make the 3D ThinkLink curriculum available for purchase online.

In addition to the funds raised through tournament sponsorships, our silent auction and raffle were the most successful ever, bringing in more than twice as much as last year.

Twenty-five teams of golfers got the rare opportunity to experience the newly remodeled Championship Course at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC, where the Senior PGA Championship will be held in 2017.

The CrossFit PR Star team on the final hole at Trump National
The CrossFit PR Star team on the 18th hole

Many of the faces were familiar, but we were pleased to welcome plenty of new players. This year’s field included more women than ever before. And, as always, we had the help of our generous volunteers, many of them from AOC Solutions.

“People tell us they keep coming back because this is the best charity golf tournament they attend all year,” explained Lynda, citing the high quality of the venue and the services provided.

Tournament Committee Chairman Bill Hall praised Trump National Director of Golf Kevin Morris, event planner Mary Hudgins and event coordinator Vicky Kurasz, along with the caddies and the rest of the staff. Last-minute changes are inevitable for an event as large as this one. The Trump National team took it all in stride and delivered an outstanding experience for everyone.

Former MLB pitcher Pete Schourek is pretty handy with a golf club, too.
Former MLB pitcher Pete Schourek knows his way around the links, too.

The early morning drizzle ended just in time for Golf Entertainer Brad Denton get things started with an amazing trick shot demonstration. The weather remained mild – mercifully unlike a typical mid-August Monday in Washington – allowing the players to enjoy a pleasant day on the course.

Most foursomes were matched with a celebrity player. Our VIP guests included speaker and Emmy-winning broadcaster Jan Fox, Major League Baseball alumni Shawn Camp and Pete Schourek, Washington Redskins alumni coordinator Jerry Olsen and former players Mike Bragg, Brian Carpenter, Ricky Ervins, Pat Fischer, Ken Jenkins, Carl Kammerer, Ron McDole, Kirk Mee and Ted Vactor.

Author John Gilstrap at YouthQuest's 2015 Challenge at Trump National tournament reception
Author John Gilstrap signed his new book at the tournament reception

New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap was with us again this year, signing copies of his new thriller Against All Enemies during the post-tournament reception. Our summer intern, Bria Toussaint, spoke at the reception about her own nonprofit, GRL-PWR, and Loudoun Youth, two organizations with close ties to YouthQuest.

The 10th Annual Challenge at Trump National was a success because of the generosity of our sponsors, silent auction donors, players and volunteers. Special thanks go out to tournament photographer Jeff Mauritzen, Copy General for printing the programs and Staybridge Suites in Chantilly for providing Brad Denton’s lodging.

We also are grateful to Michael Garcia and his staff at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in McLean, Va., for hosting our VIP Reception on August 6, at which we recognized Founders Award winner Scott MacDonald, Volunteer of the Year Edna Davis, Community Partner Derrick Campana of Animal Orthocare and 3D ThinkLink Strategic Partner Joe Travez of Prototype Productions, Inc. Learn more about our award winners here.

Make a note now to join us at the 11th Annual Challenge at Trump National on Monday, August 8, 2016.

VIDEO: Life Lessons Learned in 3D ThinkLink Classes

List of how to achieve goals made by 3D ThinkLink Lab students

The YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative reached new heights as the New Year began, thanks to our generous supporters and a group of outstanding students who took part in our Immersion Lab training.

The success of our annual golf tournament and other fundraisers made it possible for us to give at-risk youth better tools to strengthen their critical thinking skills and explore their creativity during a week of study at our headquarters in Chantilly, Va.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks  sets up a new CubePro 3D printer with 3DThinkLink Lab students Caleb Dujmovic and Christopher Coleman.
Setting up a CubePro printer

The YouthQuest Foundation provides a course in 3D design and printing for National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies, where high school dropouts get a chance to turn their lives around. Instructors at the Academies serving Maryland, South Carolina and the District of Columbia selected six graduates to receive 40 hours of advanced training in our lab during the week of January 5-9.

The first day of class felt a bit like Christmas morning when three large boxes containing CubePro 3D printers arrived. The students eagerly unpacked and set up the machines made by our strategic partner, 3D Systems, Inc.

The CubePros are a giant step up from the basic, single-color Cube2 printers they used at school. The CubePros are much larger, faster, more precise and can create two- or three-color objects in a single operation.

Dylan Foster's chess piece design in Moment of Inspiration software
Dylan Foster’s chess piece design in Moment of Inspiration software

In addition, we gave each student a tablet computer loaded with the new version of Moment of Inspiration 3D design software.

Imaginations quickly shifted into high gear as the students discovered what they could do with these new tools. Their projects included customizing solar-powered robots, making parts for a simple prosthetic hand and experimenting with all sorts of creative, multi-color designs.

For each project, the students had to create a plan to turn an idea into reality using their knowledge of the software and hardware. They made test prints, studied what worked and what failed, and kept improving their designs until they reached their goals.

This process of working through problems to achieve success is the foundation of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. The project is about much more than introducing at-risk kids to the burgeoning technology of 3D printing. Our goal is to help young people who’ve made bad decisions learn to think differently.

On the final day of Lab Week, we asked the students to make a list of the most important things they had learned. Among their answers:

  • DON’T GIVE UP
  • SLOW DOWN
  • ASK FOR HELP
  • FAILURE IS NOT FINAL
  • ACCEPT NEW CHALLENGES

There’s nothing on the list about 3D printing specifically. Instead, these are lessons for building a better life.

To us, that means 3D ThinkLink Lab Week was a great success.

MEET THE STUDENTS

3D ThinkLInk Lasb student Dylan Foster from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy holds his walking robotDylan Foster, who plans to be an artist, took full  advantage of the new tools in our Lab. With a three-color printer available for the first time, he designed several red, white and blue creations, including a beautifully detailed chess piece. For his robot project, he made a battery holder that’s simpler and works better than the one our Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks, had devised. Our classes also taught him to stay focused on his goals. “I used to give up a whole lot easier,” he said. The South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate, who had never been so far from home before, said he “met a lot of good people” and gained valuable skills during the week in the 3D ThinkLink Lab. “It’s worth the time you put into it,” Dylan said. “You can learn a lot and do a lot.”

Lessons Learned:

“Stay determined, never give up.”

“If I make a mistake or get something wrong once, that’s not the end of it … Try again and try again and try again.”

“It’s good to be creative.”

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3D ThinkLink Lab student Kamie Moody from Freestate ChalleNGe Academy“Frustration was a big problem for me,” Kamie Moody admitted. Our 3D ThinkLink classes became her “outlet” from the daily pressures at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy. “Every Monday, when I had 3D, I was excited,” she recalled.  Kamie appreciated the chance to learn about CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software because it will help her pursue a career in architecture. Experimenting with Moment of Inspiration’s new features brought out her creative talent. On a small scale, her designs look like jewelry, but on a large scale, they could be futuristic buildings. “The 3D ThinkLink program basically solidified what I already knew; that designing is something that I really want to do,” she said.

Lessons Learned:

“Keep trying. Don’t give up. It may be a little too complex at first, but if you modify it, it doesn’t have to change completely. Just make it work for you and what you know.”

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EricTablet“3D deals with a lot of measurements, a lot of exact points. The smallest thing can mess up the result,” Eric Wright explained. “Every step you take, you’ve got to make sure it’s correct … If you mess up, you learn from your mistake.” His favorite lab project was making a two-color replica of his iPhone, which required him to take precise measurements of every surface using a digital caliper. “The hardest part was getting the details right,” Eric said, but he worked through the problem step-by-step until he succeeded.  Even though he’d never heard of the technology before joining our class at Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, Eric is so interested in 3D printing now that he’d like to work in the field. He hopes the training we provided will give him an advantage in competing for a job. “It’s good because it opens you to do new things and see new things,” said Eric.

Lessons Learned:

“Be creative.”

“Think before you act and learn from your mistakes.”

“Don’t stress. Don’t get yourself mad because you can’t do something; just learn how to do it.”

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3D ThinkLink Lab student Caleb Dujmovic from Freestate ChalleNGe Academy with a cell phone stand he createdOur training might turn out to be a life-changing experience for Caleb Dujmovic. He was one of the top students in his 3D ThinkLink class at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, where he said he enjoyed learning to make things for his family and friends. His favorite lab project was making a cellphone stand because it incorporated everything he’d learned during the week about Moment of Inspiration’s new features. Caleb applies the problem-solving skills we’ve taught him to his current job in the construction business, but he’s set his sights on a bio-engineering career. It’s something he’d never considered until he visited the Maryland NanoCenter’s Tissue Engineering Lab during Vocational Orientation Day. Learning how 3D printing is being used to create bones, blood vessels, skin and other tissues opened the door to a world beyond construction for Caleb. “Seeing the steps behind what they do made me more interested in it because it’s like a puzzle of how to solve something or find something new,” he said. “It showed me what I want to do in the future.”

Lessons Learned:

“There’s not just one way to do something.”

“Trial and error – it goes hand-in-hand with life.”

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3DThinkLInk Lab student Christopher Coleman from Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe AcademyNicknamed “Highspeed” by the staff at Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy because he was often ahead of his classmates, Christopher Coleman was first exposed to 3D design software in 8th grade. Later, he “really got hooked on 3D” in the Hirshhorn Museum’s ARTLAB+ program. Our 3D ThinkLink classes taught him how to use new design tools and printers he’d never tried before. The self-described “loner” says he also learned to ask for help and work with others. “This program particularly helped me with a lot of my faults – things that I’ve got to improve,” Christopher said. “I learned to be more humble … There’s people that know stuff that I don’t know, and they don’t know things that I know.”

Lessons Learned:

“If there’s something that’s hard, don’t try to take the easy way around it. Keep going straight. Because if you keep going straight and play with stuff, you might find something new that will help you.”

“Be open and try new things. Don’t limit yourself. Go the extra mile for what you want to do.”

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3D ThinkLink Lab student Sherquana Adams from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy holds a partially assembled 3D-printed robohandAt first, Sherquana Adams didn’t want to sign up for our class at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy because she thought 3D printing was “for geeks.” But the more she learned about the many ways this technology is being used, the more interested she became. Sherquana, who aspires to be a surgical technician, was amazed by the medical applications for 3D printing. She thought it was “really cool” to put together 3D-printed pieces to make a kid-size prosthetic hand during Lab Week. “I now have a way to express myself,” she said. In just a few months, her opinion of 3D printing has shifted 180 degrees: “This is not for geeks, this is for anybody!”

Lessons Learned:

“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“The sky is the limit and you should never doubt yourself.”

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If you would like to help us expand our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@YouthQuestFoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

3D ThinkLink Students Earn Scholarships in Essay Competition

Essay contest scholarship winner Kamie Moody with YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Co-Founder Lynda Mann. at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy December 9, 2014.

The YouthQuest Foundation awarded $500 scholarships to four at-risk teens who wrote outstanding essays about what being in our 3D ThinkLink classes meant to them.

Sherquana Adams and Michael Foster were honored during the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy’s awards ceremony in Eastover, S.C., on Dec. 3. Caleb Dujmovic and Kamie Moody received their awards Dec. 9 at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in Edgewood, Maryland.

“3D printing has given me a completely new confidence about the way I think when creating,” Kamie, 19, wrote in her essay. “I’ve learned that I don’t have to be the best artist, I just have to have the capacity to think outside of the box.”

She recalled the 3D ThinkLink Initiative’s most important lesson: Failure is not final.

University of Maryland graduate student Kim Ferlin talks with Kamie Moody in the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab at the Maryland NanoCenter.
University of Maryland graduate student Kim Ferlin talks with Kamie Moody in the Tissue Engineering Lab at the Maryland NanoCenter.

Kamie and her classmates learned that the 3D objects they designed rarely turned out as expected the first time. The software and hardware we provided made it easy for them to analyze their mistakes, improve their designs and quickly print new versions.

“It takes us a few tries before we get our desired outcome,” Kamie explained. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve bitten off more than we could chew, it just means that we have to put in more work to get to our goal. The key is to keep trying.”

This is a radically different way of thinking for young people who once responded to failure by giving up on school.

Our project does more than introduce students to the basics of 3D design and printing. It teaches them about critical thinking and problem solving – skills that are sorely lacking in high school dropouts.

‘I Have Found My Gift’

Our students in Maryland and South Carolina, as well as those at the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, enrolled in the programs run by the National Guard to resume their education and develop the fundamental life skills they need to become successful adults. Their teachers chose them for our 3D ThinkLink classes to supplement their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

The rigorous 22-week residential program “can get extremely challenging at times,” Kamie wrote. “I was desperate to find an outlet. 3D printing became that outlet.”

Our training gave her the tools to bring out her “inner creativity.”

“I’ve been a tactile learner for as long as I can remember.” Kamie continued. “I loved to put things together to challenge my mind to build things from scraps and make them into something complete.”

“The feeling I get when I’ve brought to life something that started off as a mere thought in my head is indescribable.”

Kamie’s success in class has inspired her to continue pursuing a career in architecture and design.

“I truly believe that I have found my gift and with it, I plan to leave my mark,” she declared.

Essay contest scholarship winner Caleb Dujmovic with YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Co-Founder Lynda Mann.
Scholarship winner Caleb Dujmovic with YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Co-Founder Lynda Mann.

Our 3D ThinkLink training led Kamie’s Freestate classmate Caleb Dujmovic to discover his passion for the field of bio-engineering during a Vocational Orientation tour of the Maryland NanoCenter at the University of Maryland in College Park.

“My group and I were given the opportunity to visit a laboratory there, and witness first-hand the uses of 3D printing outside of the classroom,” Caleb wrote in his essay. “We were given a crash course in how the laboratory creates small bones and blood vessels for the human body.”

Caleb, 18, described his visit to the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab as an “amazing experience” that sparked a “profound interest that I never knew I would have.”

‘This Class Really Opened My Mind’

Michael Foster listens to Dr. David Rocheleau explain how a 3D printing is used at the University of South Carolina Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Michael Foster listens to Dr. David Rocheleau explain how a 3D printing is used at the University of South Carolina Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Michael Foster’s essay made it clear he has taken to heart the message he heard from some of 3D Systems, Inc.’s top executives during his Vocational Orientation tour of the company’s headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C.

“I am the future of 3D printing,” wrote Michael, 17. “I know it sounds a little dramatic but it’s true; it’s up to me and people like me to pick up the torch and carry this passion to the next creative minds.”

“I believe that this is the place where I put my foot in the door to the future.”

Michael, who aspires to join the military and study photography, said his 3D ThinkLink experience made him realize “we really have no limitations.”

His SCYCA classmate Sherquana Adams also described the training as enlightening.

“This class really opened my mind and eyes to a lot more than I thought I would know. I never knew you could do so many things by just using a computer,” Sherquana, 18, said in her essay.

Sherquana Adams tries on 3D-printed eyeglasses during a visit to 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, SC.
Sherquana Adams tries on 3D-printed eyeglasses during a visit to 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, SC.

Sherquana, who has a 2-year-old son and wants to become a surgical technician, was intrigued to learn how 3D printing is helping children whose hands are deformed by Amniotic Band Syndrome. Instead of relying on standard artificial limbs that they quickly outgrow, these children can now use simple, plastic “robohands.” The parts are made with a 3D printer and can be scaled up easily as a child grows. Best of all, each hand costs less than $100, compared to tens of thousands for a traditional prosthetic device.

All of our scholarship winners will have the opportunity to create customized robohands and work on other projects to expand their skills during a week of immersion training in our in 3D ThinkLink Lab next month.

This was our second essay competition of 2014. Freestate’s Requan Da Sant won the first contest in June. This time, 13 students from Maryland, South Carolina and DC submitted essays. They were reviewed by our Board of Directors and John Gilstrap, a bestselling author and YouthQuest supporter.

The winners will receive their scholarship money when they become enrolled in a higher education or trade school program.

CLICK HERE to read all four winning essays.

VIDEO: A Year of Growth for YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy students use laptop in 3D ThinkLink class

YouthQuest’s project to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills through 3D design and printing reached 60 at-risk teens from South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia in 2014.

This year’s highlights included the participation of students from Maryland’s Freestate and DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Programs in the USA Science and Engineering Festival in April and the first weeklong immersion training at our 3D ThinkLink Lab at YouthQuest headquarters in Chantilly, Va., in August.

Our students also saw how 3D printing is used by industries and universities during Vocational Orientation events at 3D Systems, Prototype Productions, the Maryland NanoCenter and the University of South Carolina Mechanical Engineering Department.

We look forward to further expansion in 2015 with the formal opening of the 3D ThinkLink Lab and the start of 3D printing classes for grade-schoolers at Boys & Girls Club summer camps in Fairfax County, Va.

You can help us change the lives of more at-risk kids by making a contribution to support our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. CLICK HERE to donate online. You can also contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

VIDEO: A Week of Discovery in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Lab

Students in YouthQuest's first 3D ThinkLink Lab immersion training week

The students in our first 3D ThinkLink Lab made up an unlikely team of trailblazers.

Not long ago, they were “going down the wrong path.” They were getting into trouble, giving up on school and feeling like nobody cared about them. Each one made the life-changing decision to enroll in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, where they learned about 3D design and printing in classes provided by the YouthQuest Foundation.

Thirty at-risk teens from South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia completed the introductory course in June. From those classes, instructors chose these five young men to attend the first weeklong training session at YouthQuest headquarters in Chantilly, Va., Aug. 4-8.

For South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Joey Clark, it was an “adventurous” week.

“We all come from different places, with different problems,” he said. “You didn’t know what was going to happen. It was a mystery.

“We started printing some stuff out, started having fun and then we all became pretty much brothers.”

The students’ main project for the week was to build a solar-powered walking robot and use 3D printing to customize it. In the process, they learned about creativity, problem solving and teamwork, said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, who was delighted by how quickly the students pulled together.

Daikwon Jones and Brice Lamb help each other assemble their robots
Daikwon Jones and Brice Lamb help each other assemble their robots

Within hours, the 3D ThinkLink Lab was buzzing with activity as the students helped each other assemble their robot skeletons and troubleshoot problems.

“You really have to think when it comes to 3D printing because your first thing isn’t always going to work,” observed Joey.

He and fellow SCYCA grad Brice Lamb had to think outside the box when they discovered their solar panels wouldn’t produce enough power to make their robots walk. Joey came up with the idea of using a AA battery to run the motor. He worked with Tom to design and print a battery holder that attached to his robot’s back.

That led Brice to experiment with a smaller button-type battery from one of the electronic calipers the students used to take precise measurements.

“This is the kind of problem-solving skill we’re trying to instill in these young people,” said Tom. “We want them to know that when you reach a hurdle, you don’t just stop. You take a look at it, think about it and then come up with a solution to your problem.”

“Doing 3D taught me it’s OK to make mistakes because you can always go back and redo it,” added Jarrod Burley from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy.

“This has helped me so much,” said Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Daikwon Jones. “It gives you a chance to be yourself. It’s like an artist with a painting.”

The students showed off their creations during the annual VIP reception for YouthQuest’s leading supporters, held at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in McLean, Va., on Aug. 7. Getting to meet some of the at-risk youth they’re helping made a powerful impression on our donors.

“They are highly educated, successful, accomplished in their professions,” noted Tom, “yet they didn’t know as much about 3D printing as our students did.”

Rashad Byrd with (L-R) Carrie and Pete Schourek, and Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Harry Klaff at VIP Reception August 7, 2014
Rashad Byrd with (L-R) Carrie and Pete Schourek, and Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Harry Klaff at YouthQuest’s VIP Reception

“CEOs, captains of industry, professional athletes, authors… were actually held spellbound,” Capital Guardian Information Systems Manager and 3D ThinkLink instructor Keith Hammond recalled with a smile.

“It made me feel special,” said Brice.

The reception guests were fascinated by 3D printing, added Jarrod, but many they said they didn’t think they’d be able to do it. “When I told them, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to,’ it amazed them,” he said.

Jarrod’s Freestate classmate Rashad Byrd, a sports fan who dreams of playing pro baseball, was amazed that he was able to spend time with two famous athletes in two days. He talked with retired MLB pitcher Pete Schourek about 3D printing – and baseball – at the VIP reception, then got a pep talk on the final day of class from sportscaster Rick ‘Doc’ Walker, who was a member of the Super Bowl XVII Champion Washington Redskins. Both of them played in our charity golf tournament, the Challenge at Trump National, on Aug. 11.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Stay focused on your goals and don’t get distracted,” Doc told the students. “Don’t ever let anyone make fun of you for trying to be successful. Knowledge is the key.”

The first 3D ThinkLink Lab experience was an eye-opener for everyone.

“All week, we’ve been creating stuff. We’ve been expanding our minds.” said Daikwon.

“I never thought I would be telling somebody to not give up and to just keep trying. If you mess up, just start all over again,” said Jarrod.

These five young trailblazers, who have started over and put themselves on the path to a better life, taught us a great deal during the week. Because of what we learned from their experience, we will be able to accomplish even more in the next immersion labs as we acquire more sophisticated 3D printers.

If you would like to help us expand our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@YouthQuestFoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

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