FCDI Executive Director Terri Willingham with CEL Executive Director Christian Leon and Chairman Shilen Patel.

On October 17, 2019 at the at the 5th Annual Innovation Gathering, held at the University of South Florida  Gibbons Alumni Center, FCDI was honored to receive a $25,000 grant from the Community Enrichment Laboratory (CEL), a new USF Community Area nonprofit “dedicated to harnessing the intellect, resources, and ingenuity of the innovation district to continuously and organically enrich the lives and prospects of the area’s residents, institutions, and businesses.”

The grant, announced by Shilen Patel, chairman of the CEL and Christian Leon, the CEL’s executive director, was awarded to FCDI in support of the Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics Center (AMRoC) Fab Lab initiative, opened this summer at University Mall.

“We’re very grateful to CEL for their generous support of AMRoC Fab Lab and our education and workforce training initiatives at the facility,” said FCDI Executive Director, Terri Willingham.

AMRoC is a 7500 sq. ft. public Fab Lab developed by FCDI and based at University Mall.  The mission of AMRoC Fab Lab is to build community capacity through opportunities for developing resiliency and self-reliance, inspire personal empowerment through creative self-expression and to help bridge the manufacturing & industry talent gap in the process.

CEL funding will help provide:

  •  Access for University Community area residents to the AMRoC workforce training platform where students can earn Career Diplomas and Certifications across 25 technical and employability competencies ;
  •  High end automotive repair training and certifications for those ages 16 and up, and
  • Afterschool STEM programs for University area youth ages 8-14 .

AMRoC Fab Lab was also recognized by the University Area Community Development Corporation

2019 Community Impact Award Winners – from left, KayCee Soltysiak, owner of Lily’s Pharmacy, Rick Bennett, Florida Blue Strategic Programs and Local Partnerships’; FCDI board member, Michael Smith-Mapp, FCDI executive director, Terri Willingham, and FCDI founder & board chairman, Steve Willingham

(UACDC) and the Tampa Innovation Partnership (!p) with the Creative Cooperation Community Impact Award.

AMRoC is a truly collaborative space, where FCDI is happy to welcome CEL among an amazing and growing collection of community program partners who include the SunTrust Foundation, Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, the University of South Florida, RD Management, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Libraries, PLUGHITZ Corporation, eSmart Recycling,  U.S. Auto Training3D Musketeers, Bits4Bots , Ultimate 3D Printing Store, and Prograde Labs, who all contribute generously of their time, talent, funding and resources to AMRoC.

FCDI is proud that AMRoC is at the ground level of the Uptown Tampa development efforts, and looks forward to helping build capacity and provide a pipeline to opportunity for individuals and small business in the University Area Community for many years to come!