The HAZLO (“Make It / Do It”) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that creates opportunities for K-12 students to undertake self-selected, hands-on projects that interest them, with the support of mentors and a partner organization, Cruces Creatives makerspace, that offers access to a wide range of tools in a supervised environment. The overall goal of the HAZLO Program is to help students become capable, self-actualizing adults who have gained life and academic skills through the experiential learning and mentoring offered in the HAZLO Program.

An example HAZLO project: Bike repair at Lynn Middle School

Students gain multiple benefits by working on a self-selected project with mentor support. By pursuing a project that they’ve chosen and that interests them, students are more motivated to master the life and academic skills that go along with their project (Ames, 1992; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Vansteenkiste et al., 2004).

Every project offers a chance to learn multiple skills. Life skills–such as goal-setting, persistence, and planning–are part of all experiential learning projects, which by their nature also offer an opportunity to learn and/or practice conceptual skills. For instance, woodworking involves algebra and geometry; repairing bikes involves an understanding of simple machines; recording an album offers a chance to explore sound waves as well as the digital representation of analog data; and publishing a school newspaper is integrated language arts. With one-on-one guidance from trained mentors, students also get all the benefits of individually tailored instruction, increasing their learning still further, and they have the chance to build positive relationships with supportive, capable adults who can serve as role models.

Murals that students created in Lynn Middle School restrooms as part of an HAZLO project

To make sure that these benefits are accessible to all students in Las Cruces, regardless of income, the HAZLO Foundation fully funds all approved projects, covering material costs, memberships to Cruces Creatives makerspace (discounted through in-kind support from the makerspace), and, if necessary, transportation expenses through the City of Las Cruces bus system. The HAZLO program also pays for training and background checks for the volunteer mentors.

The HAZLO Foundation is currently running a pilot program with students from Lynn Community Middle School.

Works Cited

Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, Structures, and Student Motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261-271.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, C. L. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Sheldon, K. M., & Deci, E. L. (2004). Motivating Learning, Performance, and Persistence: The Synergistic Effects of Intrinsic Goal Contents and Autonomy-Supportive Contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 246-260.