Lakeshore, Nonprofits, and Small Business & Startups

Nonprofit acquires design lab

January 14, 2015
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Nonprofit acquires design lab
The Hope College volleyball team gathers at the Ambrose lab for a "design blitz." Photo via fb.com

An educational arts and technology nonprofit has acquired an after-school design program and screen-printing business in the region that will eventually lead to jobs for teens and young adults.

The West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology, or WMCAT, is partnering with Ambrose, 224 South River Ave., Holland, to oversee a new program that will create revenue for WMCAT’s Teen Arts + Tech Program and employ young people.

“Ambrose is an incredibly innovative organization that has been at the forefront of social enterprise work,” said Kim Dabbs, WMCAT executive director.

“By bringing their model to WMCAT, we can give urban teens valuable employment opportunities, while developing a new, sustained revenue stream for WMCAT’s important work in social impact.”

WMCAT said yesterday that it will acquire Ambrose’s screen-printing business and equipment in February, while Ambrose “will cease operations in Holland at that time." In March, the screen-printing production is expected to start again at WMCAT’s Grand Rapids location, 98 E. Fulton St. WMCAT will employ teens and young adults from its arts and tech program in the new venture. Ambrose founder Adam Weiler also will join WMCAT as project director.

Dabbs and Weiler decided on the new partnership through conversations facilitated by Start Garden staff.

“The opportunity to join Ambrose with WMCAT in Grand Rapids is really exciting,” Weiler said. “Together we can help young people make valuable connections between creativity and career. Social enterprise applies commercial principles to affect social change. With this new venture at WMCAT we will be enriching urban teens by using a creative business to teach leadership, design thinking and commercial competencies.”

According to Ambrose’s website, the organization began in 2008 “with six high school students, a chalkboard table and two questions: ‘What do you want to learn? And how do you want to learn it?’” Ambrose’s mission has been to develop sustainable spaces for building creativity through a number of activities like photography, painting, drawing, sewing, cooking, and graphic and product design.

“Ambrose is a social enterprise aimed at helping students explore and fulfill their creative potential,” its Facebook page reads. “By day we function as a collaborative design and print lab. By night we teach processes and skills via hands on workshops. More things are always in the works.”

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