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Chester County Press

Michael & Nancy Pia Foundation to partner with The Garage on new maker space

03/07/2023 01:56PM ● By Richard Gaw

Courtesy photo             In partnership with The Michael & Nancy Pia Foundation, The Garage Community & Youth Center will be expanding its Avondale location to include a dedicated maker space for students.


By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

For more than two decades, under the direction of its board, its staff and its volunteers, The Garage Community & Youth Center has been matching the aspirations of the thousands of students it has served with an equal amount of programs intended to help achieve their dreams.

Along the way, they have also been guided by the angels of the southern Chester County community – from business to government to private foundations -- who have been a part of the financial backbone of the organization since its beginning. Recently, The Garage received two additional gifts that will help pave the way for students, both creatively and as they begin to design their future.

In partnership with the Michael & Nancy Pia Foundation, The Garage will be developing a maker space at its Avondale location, which will serve as a space for students and the community to tap into creativity, expression, hobbies, skills, and much more. The proposed space will include supplies and tools for various forms of art and skills including pottery, painting, woodworking and more, and once completed will be under the supervision of trained professionals in each area.

Garage students will be able to access this space and work in a creative a la carte fashion. Further, the space will be open to the community for classes, rental opportunities, and local artist events.

The Foundation has previously worked with other local institutions including the Kennett Library, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, and the Sanford School to help these organizations realize the reality of their maker space visions.

“We recognize that having a creative outlet and the resources to express one’s self is an integral part of being a person, and that’s what this space is going to provide kids, one that will be messy and fun and expressive,” said Kristin Proto, executive director of The Garage. “For our population in particular, these are the things that help them process through the challenges of life – to have a space where they can express themselves, and have an opportunity to try new things and have the time and space to do that.

“Down the line, we see this maker space as a creative outlet for the entire community that will allow us to partner with organizations and individuals and open up these resources for everyone.”

A huge thanks to Sen. Carolyn Comitta

The Garage also became the recipient of $25,000 in state grant funding to support their after-school career development programs. The funding was awarded through the Job Training and Education Programs Grant program through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in partnership with Sen. Carolyn Comitta. 

The Garage will use the funds to support its Motivating, Advancing, Powerful Students (MAPS) and Career Compass youth programs. 

 “The Garage is a special place where teens and young people can access a safe, positive, productive, and fun environment to explore their interests, discover new talents, foster their skills, and prepare for future success,” Comitta said. “With this funding, The Garage can continue to serve our community with high-quality career development and professional internship opportunities in historically underserved areas. I want to thank the staff, supporters, and volunteers of The Garage for their work.” 

 “The MAPS program provides career exploration and post-secondary education access to Latinx high school students who attend The Garage’s after-school programs,” Proto said. “The Garage’s Career Compass program provides paid professional summer internship opportunities for a dozen high school students annually, building their resumes, experience, and job skills.

“The students, staff, and Board of Directors at The Garage are grateful for the support of Senator Comitta and her team.” 

In an effort to expand its programming to accommodate an increasing amount of students in the West Grove and Avondale communities, The Garage moved to the former Avondale Fire House last May. Currently in the first of two renovation phases, the two-story, 11,000 square-foot facility will eventually include a multi-purpose room with a stage, two ADA-compliant bathrooms, an interior gymnasium, a full-service commercial kitchen, a meal preparation and distribution area, administrative offices, and space for local non-profit and legal aid organizations.

To learn more about The Garage Community & Youth Center, please visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].