Under The Hood With Leonardo’s Basement



Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.16.56 PMIn October, we introduced Under the Hood to better understand how technology oriented nonprofits in Minnesota function.

This recurring series is made possible by research partner Altrulytics and underwriter Atomic Data.  Over the coming weeks we will publish individual responses, and in the end, compile an aggregated assessment of the landscape with further analysis.

Organization name: Leonardo’s Basement

Executive Director: Steve Jevning

When was your organization formed and for what purpose?

Leonardo’s Basement began in 1998 with a mission to create learning environments for “kids” of all ages to design and build engineering, art and technology projects from their imagination with a vision to “transform people to change the world.”

Who or what organizations/companies do you serve?

Primarily young people ages 6-17 but also adults as students at our workshop. Also students and adults at schools and corporate facilities.


How many do you serve and how?

We serve about 2,500 students annually and another 3-4,000 at community events. During the summer we see 1,000 students at our 5,000 sq ft workshop in south Minneapolis. During the school year we work at schools to help low-income students make sense of abstract concepts by building projects and collaborate with students and teachers to develop permanent workshop spaces and programming.

What are the main programs/resources that you offer?

Children – engineering, technology and art classes plus birthday parties; teach LEGO robotics to over 200 girls and boys annually;

Teens – workshops, mostly tech-related Arduino, Raspberry Pi, CAD, 3D printing, laser engraving, animation and video; volunteer opportunities and job training experience;

Adults – classes, mostly CAD with 3D printing engraving plus metalworking; internships; volunteer opportunities; corporate training;

Families – open houses, child/parent classes, community and corporate events;

Schools – STEM and art residencies; field trips; staff development; develop programs and workshops spaces.

How do you source funding and can you provide us with three years most recent tax returns?

Slightly over 50% of revenue is earned income with the remainder from individuals, corporations, private foundations and government agencies. 20132012 | 2011

What key metrics do you use and how do you measure the impact of your org?

We use the easy quantitative ones – numbers served, cost per student, increased technical skills, etc. Our long-term goal is to develop measurement tools for what is most important to us:

Curiosity, imagination, collaborative and communication skills, risk taking, critical thinking, problem solving and self-assessment. Video interviews and photographs support instructor observations to record progress in these areas.

Do donors fund the organization as a whole, specific programs and/or something else?

Individual donors, and a few private foundations, support general operating costs. Most corporations and government agencies fund specific programs. Donors also provide scholarships for children from low-income families.

Who is on the executive board of your organization?

Abbi Allan, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), Instructor and self-employed artist

Michael Arquin, KidWind Project, Founder and Director

Willis Bowman, Mechanical Engineer, Self-employed

Barry Kudrowicz, University of Minnesota, Assistant Professor Product Design

Jennifer Nelson, Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services, Director and State Librarian

Eric Schnell, Aeon, Chief Operating Officer

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We are always looking for volunteers and part-time instructors who are passionate about technology and can convey their enthusiasm to others.





  • Dan Linstroth

    This is awesome. Great series. I’d love to learn a bit more about the students being served by Leonardo’s Basement. It would also be cool if there were an option to fund a specific class, program or scholarship, similar to Donors Choose or Adopt a Classroom.