Sawhorse revolution

Innovator Track: Established Nonprofit

Fast Pitch 2020
Impact Audience Award Runner Up

Meet the Speaker

Sarah Smith

What inspires you most about the work you do?

Sawhorse always offers avenues to creativity for so many people – for our students, staff, builders, designers, and volunteers – at a number of different levels. On the one hand, we can innovate our community action, and we can also experiment with different creative ways to problem solve construction and design details! It’s not just creativity – but the ability to imagine new futures and ideas and make them happen in the real world. That kind of tangible change and tangible action on the world keeps me going in this job and inspires me every week.

How can someone engage or get involved with your organization/mission?

Sawhorse always needs and welcomes volunteers on site - for a single day or an entire 12-week program, and we welcome advice and strategy meetings. Our social media presence is robust and, we like to think, full of amazing student design. An Instagram follow @sawhorse.revolution will keep you up to date and inspired. And of course, philanthropic support allows us to dream, design, and build our hearts out; gifts at any level make a huge difference for our students and our organization!

Innovator COVID-19 Update

Per state requirements - and to keep our students, builders, designers, clients, volunteers, staff, and the wider community safe and healthy during this crisis, Sawhorse Revolution has cancelled all programming for the time being. During this pause, we are investigating ways to support our many communities in the months to come.

Currently, several program staff are electively working to rush the completion of a new Seattle tiny house for homeless village, creating more dignified shelter for some of the city’s most vulnerable people. They are able to work safely with our tools and far from others while contributing to sheltering our houseless community.

As the corona virus crisis unfolds, we will be looking for ways to support our youth online – through design curriculum and at-home DIY projects, among other efforts. Additionally, Sawhorse staff will be able to build at least a couple more tiny homes for homeless - using our tools and skills to help give shelter to those in need, even if we can’t engage our students in this effort until the threat has passed.

As for finances: any donations are incredibly meaningful, allowing us to weather this crisis and to be able to respond to communities’ and youth’s needs in force when we are able to build with our students again. Our web site has not been updated to reflect our coming (and now delayed) cash reserve campaign, as was our plan, due to interruptions from COVID-19.

We will be posting updates on our Instagram @sawhorse.revolution, on our newsletter, and on our website as our plans evolve. Please reach out to Sawhorse’s Executive Director Sarah Smith at with more questions or simply to say hello. Her offer to visit a site stands – for when builds start up again.

We wish you all health in the coming months, and are grateful for the ongoing generosity of Seattle’s philanthropic, business, and non-profit communities, and send special gratitude to our health care workers!

Learn more about Sawhorse Revolution

Sawhorse Revolution teaches high school youth carpentry and architecture through inspiring community projects. Our programs team teens with professional carpenters and architects to create projects that create a real difference in students’ own neighborhoods – from a series of nearly 30 custom-designed tiny homes for people experiencing homelessness to a tree house 30’ up the forest canopy to an installation in the Seattle Central Library.

All of our programs are available for free to our youth to reduce barriers. This also means that our youth are ¾ youth of color, ¾ from low-income backgrounds, and more than half young women and non-binary students. There is a tremendous variety to Sawhorse programs – from full-school-year design/builds to summer camp to quick weekend builds, but each program is structured around a very specific set of values. In short, these values recognize the importance of student autonomy as well as the potential benefits of strong mentorship, group reflection, and community engagement.