Milwaukee nonprofit School Factory closing

Organization will transfer clients to other nonprofits

School Factory, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that helps launch hands-on learning communities, announced that it is closing.

The organization said it is transferring its programs to other nonprofits that align with its mission.

School Factory began in 2002 as the parent organization of Bucketworks, a coworking space that hosted performances, community workshops, technology events and professional meetups. In 2015, School Factory transitioned ownership of Bucketworks to a former member who runs it under the name Milwaukee Cooperative at The Shops of Grand Avenue.

School Factory has provided member programs with various services to get them off the ground, including fiscal sponsorship, program hosting and consulting. The organization said it has helped more than 100 collaborative spaces, educational programs and hands-on learning programs get started and grow in the past decade.

When the organization first began providing those services in 2008, there weren’t many organizations serving that market, the organization said in its announcement. Since then, the popularity of collaborative spaces and project-based learning has grown.

“While School Factory had a part to play in all these trends, we also realized it was time to take a step back and assess today’s reality,” said Diana Luepke, executive director of School Factory. “Our leadership recently conducted a careful research and analysis process to understand how the world has changed and how we could best serve the groups in our network.”

School Factory is collaborating with national nonprofit Nation of Makers during the transition. The organization said it has identified Social Good Fund as a fiscal sponsor organization for School Factor’s partners.

“One sign of health in an organization is its willingness to consider when its work is done,” said James Carlson, School Factory’s founder. “We believe strongly in closing when we know it’s the right thing to do, and doing so in the right way at the right time.”

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.