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Kansas City nonprofit, 'MINDDRIVE,' opens doors for inner-city youth

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 23:25:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The nonprofit Studios, Inc. in the Kansas City Crossroads isn't hosting a traditional art exhibit.

"It's a piece made out of a bunch of sockets and wrenches," Cesar Alonzo said.

Alonzo has multiple pieces of his own creation in an exhibition that features artwork made by students and staff at MINDDRIVE, a project-based experiential program for inner city youth.

"[It] Helped me learn what engineering is, what it could be. How to make something out of just a few pieces of metal," Alonzo said.

He crafted his Aztec Warrior piece in 17 hours, with welding and engineering skills learned at MINDDRIVE, which also opens doors to e-sports, drones and automotive design.

"Students can choose a path of interest to them, and then learning marketable job skills, can pursue opportunities post-graduation," Mike Enos, the executive director at MINDDRIVE, said.

It's a new point of entry for students and staff, who are all former MINDDRIVE students themselves.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do after high school, so working here is expanding my options," Fernanda Barro said.

Britany Mojica said she'd never imagined she could have a career in welding before working with MINDDRIVE.

"[I] Really got into welding, so I'm currently pursuing my welding certification, which is awesome," Mojica said. "It's not something I saw myself doing before."

Damon King reflected on the skills he learned at MINDRIVE and how it's helped boost his confidence.

"[I] Pretty much can work any blue collar job, I have pretty good confidence," King said. "[It] taught me how to use every tool you can think of."

These are new faces in the future welding and engineering workforce, with artistic results to show for it.

"I don't know where I'd be," Alonzo said. "I've always wanted to put my creativity somewhere, always wanted to go the extra mile to see what I was capable of."