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Protohaven maker space secures $165K grant from Hillman Foundation

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 11:03 a.m.
Protohaven, a nonprofit makerspace, is expanding in its Wilkinsburg location. (Photo from Protohaven)
Protohaven, a nonprofit makerspace, is expanding in its Wilkinsburg location. (Photo from Protohaven)

A Wilkinsburg maker space will expand, buy more equipment and offer income-based membership rates thanks to a $165,000 grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

The six-month-old Protohaven will more than triple in size and take over the entire 12,500-square-foot space of its North Trenton Avenue home.

“We think we're building something special and will need a lot of help to do it,” Protohaven co-founder and executive director Devin Montgomery wrote in a letter to members and supporters.

The formation of Protohaven started when TechShop announced it was closing its Pittsburgh location at Bakery Square last year. TechShop members forged a new nonprofit to create a space for makers, small businesses and crafty people to have access to high-tech and often expensive tools.

Protohaven moved into 3,000 square feet on North Trenton Avenue in Wilkinsburg in December. The organization will add 6,000 square feet of workshop space and 1,500 square feet of project space with its expansion.

With the grant, Protohaven will be able to offer membership rates based on income and partner with area nonprofits to make the space welcoming and accessible to more people. Current membership rates are $25 for a day pass or $105 a month for a general membership. Protohaven also offers pro memberships for $175 a month and a starter membership for $35 a month. Protohaven has about 150 members.

The grant also will fund the purchase of additional equipment, including a CNC router, computers and benches for electronics and jewelry work.

Members have used the space to make crafts and products for local art fairs and to sell to national restaurant chains, Montgomery wrote in his letter. Flowerhouse used its CNC lasers and Bricolage Production Co. built a theater set at Protohaven.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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