fbpx Skip to main content
Grantee Spotlight

Grantee Spotlight: Sawhorse Revolution

By March 3, 2020March 9th, 2020No Comments

Sawhorse Revolution, Grant Recipient of Drift West 2019

Sawhorse Revolution, based in Seattle, teaches high school students carpentry and design through inspiring community projects. Since their first summer camp in 2010, they have served over 750 youth and completed 51 projects – all with teens working under the tutelage of professional carpenters and architects.

Sawhorse Revolution began as an all-volunteer summer camp in 2019, founded by a group of recession-impacted, totally skill-less college grads who acutely felt the skills gap. Sarah Smith, Executive Director of Sawhorse Revolution shares more on how the program began; 

We wanted to work on filling that gap with the coolest, most interesting and engaging projects we could for young people – basically offering an after-school / summer option like theater or soccer but one with an extremely practical offshoot, should somebody need it. AND, as education nerds, we were also interested in what possibilities there are for out-of-school and hands-on learning. How could we answer the question, ‘when am I ever gonna need to USE this?’ so frequently heard in classrooms? How could we address a sense of social engagement and empowerment? How could we honor various styles of learning and development needs? How could we offer education that was ‘failure positive,’ instead of punitive?

And so forth.

When we were encouraged by the community to bring our camp model into the city, we decided to add a community service flair to our work – and soon Sawhorse after-school programs were born.”


The mission

To foster confident and community oriented youth through the power of carpentry and craft. 

The vision

Sawhorse Revolution is what happens each time a student realizes that simple hand tools allow her to transform entire communities.

At its heart, Sawhorse Revolution is about expanding young people’s understanding of what’s possible for their lives. Through collaborative learning and manual creation programs, youth begin to see abundant potential for themselves, peers, and neighbors.

We envision a future for our students where using a tool is as familiar as using a touchscreen, and one where that knowledge serves as a foundation upon which youth build engaged lives and equitable communities.


Drift West’s grant to Sawhorse Revolution is helping to fund the Student Ambassador Program. This is the first “vertical” program they are offering, where students can enter into advanced tool use and tool training, while also getting leadership experience. They wanted to offer an opportunity for young folks to learn more by starting to teach. In addition to the tool training and leadership opportunities, this program offers connections to a plethora of organizations for those truly interested in pursuing careers in the trades. This year, they’ll be leading community groups through the build of one of the city’s first permanent and permitted tiny houses for people experiencing homeless. This means they’ll learn a lot about working from drawings and building a larger structure!

Bike & Build’s grant has covered essential student costs for the student ambassador program this year. Sawhorse offers all programs for free, so funds to cover safety equipment, staff coordination time, and more, are essential in order for the program to proceed at pace.

Sarah Smith has been working at Sawhorse Revolution since 2012. When asked what some of her favorite things about working there are, she said “one of my favorite things about working here is the consistent access to creativity and learning on the job…and knowing that creativity goes to make a difference in the world, not just to folks who already have access to a lot of privilege. We also have amazing communities around us – the staff and programs all have their own micro-communities, and I love the camaraderie that develops when working on a build site together. There’s nothing like it, and I’m proud to share that with our builders, our students, our staff, and any folks who come volunteer and work with us.”

Are you in the Seattle area and interested in getting involved with Sawhorse Revolution? Volunteers are needed nearly every day of the week between April – July. You can hop in for a day during the student ambassador program, or check out www.sawhorserevolution.org for more specific opportunities. They’re currently revamping the volunteer application and intake process, but always need help building!