Marlyn “Mars” Hill kept calling; a father, student and Sacramentan, 36, with a dream.

Mars has been seeking business partners. One of Hacker Lab's first Pathways scholarship cohort, which launched last fall, Mars has been working toward his mission: to make a world-changing business with robots and electric vehicles.

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Despite the work of school and taking care of two little ones, Mars has remained motivated. With an initial knowledge of the working machinery and an entrepreneurial spirit, Heather Morrow, Hacker Lab's Pathways program adviser, encouraged him to meet with MakersXD, the charter vendor offering youth classes inside Hacker Lab.

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Earlier this month, Mars's eyes filled with light: He found a couple partners ,two youth students who were interested in partnering. With the support of Brannon Harris, MakersXD teacher, they are starting to make transportation robots to carry members’ and guests’ belongings to their seats.

This is just one of the stories that have emerged from Hacker Lab's Pathways scholarship program for low-income dreamers, builders and artists interested in joining a new field, starting a business or going to college. The first cohort began last fall with the support of the City of Sacramento, Kaiser Permanente and SMUD. Hacker Lab applied for the City's RAILS grant program to:

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”...arm our next wave of creatives with new entrepreneurial capabilities that will result in new job creation, small business creation, and badass community art projects.” - Eric Ullrich & Gina Lujan, Hacker Lab RAILS grant application.


Sacramento is now an entrepreneur's dream. High-income transplants and developers see value here. However, the opportunities should be available to all. A place where anyone can do anything — that’s Sacramento.

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This is the power of Pathways: Empowering residents of the region to take meaningful steps toward their dream. Forming meaningful connections. Building community. Connecting underserved communities to vital resources they deserve the most.

Learn about some other projects Pathways members are working on and sign-up for the next cohort below:

      • Richard Prasad is taking online classes and using Hacker Lab's Meetups, community and AWS credits to become a full-stack developer.
      • Caitlin McCuskey works construction in a solar company. She's taken Hacker Lab's classes to further her understanding of the tools at her work. Meanwhile, she's learning to becoming a skilled carpenter so she can build garden and urban farm infrastructure. Now she wants to better facilitate existing nonprofits and organizations in the city doing this work as well.
      • Aida Lizalde, a local artist and curator, found a full-time job with Verge Center for the Arts while using Hacker Lab to search for work. She’s also preparing for her Master’s Degree application process using Hacker Lab as the main source of her portfolio work (January).
      • David Stone and Aida Lizalde both showed work at a Verizon show at Hacker Lab supporting 5G, arts and technology in the Sacramento area in March, which Mayor Steinberg spoke at and included hundreds of attendees.
      • Rhett Neal, a 57-year old disabled retiree, has made great progress towards his goal of being a maker after having retired from studio and show-curating. While he spent years highlighting others’ creativity as a renowned curator, now he can explore his own and is developing a new source of income. He has taken many classes, starting with a coat rack he’s selling. Now, he wants to work in furniture design like Hacker Lab’s own Trent Dean at West Elm.
      • Cristhian Poveda Alvarado wants to become a mechatronics tech. She already got a job with GE and is completing a college program online.
      • Angela Jackson, a Sac City College adjunct teacher, is using Hacker Lab to prototype new die-cut greeting cards, coffee mugs and symbol designs for a vendor event in early June.
      • Tim Bailey is working toward his dream of making eco-conscious mobility machines that consume no fossil fuels. He’s taken our mill class and intends to take the rest of our woodshop classes and Startup Hustle to get there.
      • Khalil Coleman wants to project maps on laser-printed and 3D maps on objects to sell. He has partially achieved this through using our shopbot and is working on expanding his portfolio.
      • David Andre, a houseless Pathways member, has expanded hugely his dream of making sleeppods. He already has an initial prototype and is working on connecting with nonprofits.
      • George Raya, who is working on expanding his business of social media consulting and networking, held a Latino queer organization meeting in Hacker Lab’s main space with 50-70 attendees with Hacker Lab as a main sponsor.

Interested in joining the next Pathways round? Sign-up for the waiting list using our (in need of an update) landing page. Thanks!

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