Throughout 2012 the Board, volunteers and community of Assemble worked to create a short-term strategic plan. The purpose of this plan is to take Assemble through the next 20 months of operations, organizational development and program planning. No one document can be all things to an organization, rather this strategic plan highlights the important constituencies Assemble serves, collaborates with and seeks to engage as the critical “next phase” to establish Assemble as a stable and integral organization within the community. This plan is a launching place for action plans to meet those constituencies, both inside our walls and out in the community, so that Assemble can fulfill its mission and enable our vision of the community to become a reality.

It is the hope of the Board that this document guides the decision-making process of the Board, its committees and our volunteers. Each committee is to take these priority constituency groups and develop mission-driven and sustainable programs or activities that will enhance Assemble’s opportunities with these groups.

This plan should not be used to dissuade Assemble from taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities or responding to unknown threats as they arise.


The strategic planning process for this document was undertaken because Assemble was applying for its tax exempt status from the IRS. The Board of Directors realized that stability and prioritizing plans make for more effective management of a volunteer-led and run organization. To create this plan several planning sessions were held. The minutes and notes of those meetings are included as an appendix to this document. This plan is the result of large, diverse group input over time. The process was as inclusive as we could make it – all members of our community were invited to participate at all and any stage of the process which began with the review and revision of the mission and vision statements (revised version below) and concluded with discussions on how to reach, engage or develop priority groups.

Assemble Vision

Assemble envisions a diverse community that creates, connects and learns together through art and technology experiences.

Assemble Mission

Assemble is an open physical space in an urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We unite artists, technologists and makers with our neighbors of all demographics. Assemble provides a platform for experiential learning, open creative processes, and building confidence through making.

The following sections are the priority groups and the ideas generated for the committees and the board to consider in moving forward with engagement and program planning.

Assemble’s Program Formats and Current Programs


  • Gallery Shows
  • Learning Parties
  • Artist Talks
  • Bands


  • M3
  • Workshops for Groups
  • Crafternoons
  • School-based Enrichment
  • Learning Parties
  • Mobile Activities
  • Artist Workshops
  • LAB


  • Gallery Shows
  • Hosted Evenings
  • LAB
  • Volunteerism

Walking Distance Community

Primary Need Over 20 Months: Outreach

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, Gallery Shows, Artist Workshops, Bands, Hosted Events, LAB

Priorities Identified for this Group

  • Grow the numbers of neighbors who are aware of Assemble
  • Reverse thinking that neighbors need to leave Garfield for entertainment
  • Have the space used more for a springboard to bring the community and/or other organizations together
  • Consider programming that is local-needs focused, i.e. a tool library with DIY skills training

Tactics for Success:

  • Continue to provide high quality experiences in the Assemble space
  • Utilize the window board for event schedule and notification
  • Active street team to go door-to-door
  • Utilize church bulletins for event schedule and notification
  • Reach out to other groups to share event information
  • Create/Engage advocates and those with symbiotic relationships within the Garfield community
  • Address some space-related branding issues, i.e. the outside awning

Funders/Individual Donors

Primary Need Over 20 Months: Outreach

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, M3, LAB

Priorities Identified for this Group:

  • Make existing and potential donors aware that Assemble needs support
  • Capture the names and contact of donors to “the jar”
  • Capture names and contact of visitors
  • Maintain a database of donors
  • Determine whether free programming is best, or if a mix of fee-for-use is also fundable
  • Consider crowdfunding options like Kickstarter and Indiegogo
  • Consider earned revenue through Assemble-branded items

Tactics for Success:

  • Annual fundraising event
  • Capitalize on First Friday visitors to meet some of our target audience
  • Use technology to take contributions from individuals, i.e. PayPal, Square
  • Regular email, Facebook and newsletter updates coordinated with fundraising plan
  • Event fundraisers, i.e. MakerDate
  • Develop universal information packet for everyone to use and keep up-to-date
  • Recognition and stewardship plans for donors
  • Participate in Pittsburgh Social Exchange Network
  • Calendar for fundraising plan
  • Streamline the recognition process
  • Create a balance between the institution, people and time
  • Target Makers and Artists as donors

Professional Makers

Primary Need Over 20 Months: Outreach and Support

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, M3, Artist Talks, Hosted Evenings, LAB

Important Note: This group usually wants to be compensated for their time/talent.

Priorities Identified for this Group

  • Connect them as individuals and professionals to the mission and vision of Assemble
  • Find ways to translate their work in our space into community engagement opportunities
  • Position Assemble in a way that have the opportunity to exhibit is an advantage
  • Consider Artist Residency programs

Tactics for Success

  • Consider charging for space to make it psychologically desirable and to generate revenue
  • Continue with space maintenance and improvement
  • Codify the installation process, i.e. rules for the space, deadlines, cross-promotion with the artists’ network, etc.
  • Website update to include space rental information
  • Profiles of makers/artists for hire.


Primary Need Over 20 Months: Develop Programming and Outreach

Current Relevant Programming: None

Priorities Identified for this Group:

  • Write a program by the end of 20 months, some ideas include:
    • Using M3 as a platform
    • Club system with individual programs, i.e. chess, STEAM, GSA, homework help, mentoring
    • Teen directed/designed programming
    • Senior project requirement program
  • Consider the following as options: annual teen event, monthly teen night
  • Seek the insight of a an educator

Tactics for Success

  • Develop a funding stream in conjunction with the program development
  • Focus groups and/or surveys of teens for program ideas, interests and development (Minnette knows someone with CMU who already has this information)
  • Test programs with a summer pilot
  • Connect with other neighborhood organizations for programming so we’re not overlapping, but strive to develop a teen program by Assemble in line with our mission and vision
  • Appropriate marketing and positioning are important
  • Create a Teen Board/Committee


Primary Need Over 20 Months: Outreach, Quality and Support

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, M3, Artist talks, Artist workshops, Workshops for groups, Hosted events, LAB

Important Note: This group is more willing to donate time and skills


Priorities Identified for This Group

  • Broaden our reach within this network
  • Invite more to become aligned with Assemble’s mission and vision
  • Provide compelling reasons to participate with Assemble

Tactics for Success

  • Consider targeted programming, some ideas were
    • Role Playing Game clubs
    • Themed networking events
    • Smart-share/Nerd night events
    • Creative topic pairings modeled after the Denver Museum
  • Communicate more with those already in our network
  • Create mentor opportunities with teens
  • Target connections between groups to facilitate networking, some ideas were
    • Adult Science Fair
    • Network Nights

Schools – Teachers and Groups

Primary Need Over 20 Months: Outreach

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, M3, Workshops for groups. LAB

Priorities Identified for this Group:

  • Include outreach to guidance counselors and others in schools as points of contact
  • Consider corporate learning and university students as potential users
  • Survey/focus group of this constituency
  • Find service partners so delivery is not all on Assemble
  • Consider workshops for teachers

Tactics for Success

  • Articulate our educational identity, strengths and assets
  • Develop mini-curriculum for preparing to visit Assemble and for post-visit follow-up
  • Create manual of existing workshops
  • Standardize presentation programs for outreach events
  • Develop a rubric to determine if the request to participate in an outreach event fits Assemble’s strategic goals
  • Conduct pilot testing in our space with our students

18 – 27 Year Olds

Primary Need Over 20 Months: Outreach

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, Gallery Shows, Artist talks, Artist workshops, bands, volunteers

Priorities Identified for this Group:

  • Turn into regular participants and/or volunteers
  • Targeted programming, ideas suggested include
    • Role Playing Games
    • Lego night
    • Pecha Kucha
    • Zombies, Lord of the Rings
  • Convert into donors
  • Consider how they might mix with the teen programming.

Tactics for Success:

  • Develop job descriptions for volunteers
  • Special fundraiser and social networking opportunities
  • Provide appropriate recognition for volunteer efforts
  • Provide formal volunteer training
  • Communicate with them through relevant channels, i.e. Facebook, flyers, word of mouth
  • Host parties for this audience
  • Professional and personal networking and development activities


 Primary Need Over 20 Months: Support

Current Relevant Programming: Learning Parties, M3, Gallery Shows, Artist workshops, workshops for groups, LAB


Note: This group is considered well served at this point and is not in need of new programming, but rather continued support and avenues of funding


Priorities Identified for this Group:

  • Continue to manage programs effectively
  • Continue to grow participation through outreach
  • Continue to refresh or add new maker projects as needed
  • Continue to find ways for parents and children to learn together
  • Reach out to parents as donors/advocates
  • Data collection, especially school-based data