Team handbooks/policies - for teams that meet in a sponsor's facility

Hi all,

I am needing some examples for a potential host site. Specifically they are looking for “an institution or two that runs a team to make sure that we can put all the necessary protocols in place.”

There will already be a sponsoring youth organization that has its own child safety/ behavior/management policies and the like, so I think what they are asking for is about access / tool use&safety / other things that come up when working in a non-school space.

They potential host site is also wondering what the unexpected/hidden costs are that might pop up during spin-up (for the site itself – as the team will be providing the equipment – so this could be things like additional power outlets, building security, etc).

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

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Not sure if this is the sort of thing you are looking for…
Anyway, after outgrowing the high school, (up until COVID), we have graciously been hosted by the university. One of the huge wins this provided was access for our team members to the ME department’s machine shop. Our team members take all the same safety training and follow all the same procedures as the college students who use the lab. Additionally, at least one mentor is always present for oversight when we have team members in the shop. Here is the shop’s SOP

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Yes, partly what is needed - very helpful, thank you.

I got some more info on additional specifics on what they want to know:

  • responsibilities of team versus host
  • unexpected costs in first 24 months
  • unforeseen stumbles
  • clearly defined expectations of team and host.

Some additional background is that:

  • host is providing space, power/light/utilities/security & access to laser/3D printers
  • team is providing everything else (tools, furnishings, insurance, organization)

(apologies ahead of time for the length of the reply!)

6328’s workshop is in an industrial office space with offices, a conference room, a lab, and open workshop. It’s the R&D space for a former beverages company that is now owned by a bottling plant (Patriot Beverages). Patriot had no use for the building and it was sitting empty for 10+ years, so we were lucky enough to broker a deal with them that allows the team exclusive use of this building.

That said, it is a completely separate building (on the other side of the parking lot) from any other of the bottling plant spaces so there aren’t concerns about students/mentors in their working space. The non-profit behind 6328 carries liability insurance that covers us in that building and there is no equipment there other than what we provide.

Patriot provides the space, and covers electricity, propane for a furnace, wifi access, snow removal, pest control, and exterior building maintenance (they had to patch a couple of leaky spots in the roof). The building is also part of their regular plant security. Three of our mentors have keys to the building and we have permission for access anytime though they like that we mostly access the space (pre-COVID) outside of their normal business hours. Patriot, of course, also has access to the building at any time. They provided an extra 220V drop (maybe 2?) in the machine shop for us when we first moved in but we try to be super careful and thoughtful about our asks from them for things like that. Patriot did have a couple unexpected expenses when we first moved in but those were related to the building sitting unused for a decade (for example, the sewer pipe that was clogged with mop heads that no one knew about until the restroom was being used regularly again!).

Our team is responsible for interior cleaning and maintenance, including the bathrooms, and providing supplies like trash bags, paper towels, and toilet paper.

In exchange, Patriot can write off the donation of the space/utilities and has a deal with our town’s Selectboard that allows them to support local community organizations (which we definitely are) in lieu of some of the tax payments to the town.

6328 is incredibly fortunate to have a sponsor like Patriot and we work hard to maintain our relationship with them. I don’t know if that answers your questions, but I’m happy to discuss further or provide other specifics. Feel free to reach out!


Probably the largest “hidden cost” is liability. The site will want to work with their insurance provider (and possibly your school?) to understand the impact of having youth using power tools on site. Mitigation for that could be required training for adult mentors that will be supervising and training the students, but that probably won’t cover the full potential increased cost for liability insurance.

Some things to consider:

  • Access. How does everyone enter the work area? Does it have to be through a manned checkpoint, or is their direct access through a secure door (lock and key, prox card, etc)? Either option has costs associated with it - paying a security guard, generating and distributing keys (and managing keys when new mentors join or old mentors quit), etc.
  • Janitorial services. What are the expectations for the host to clean and remove garbage, versus the team? Keep in mind common or public spaces, like restrooms!
  • Potential site damage. Driving a robot around means you might occasionally drive it into the wall/door/table/etc. How will those repairs be handled?
  • Pay attention to things like sprinkler systems. I know in one of our past build spaces we had to be very careful not to hit the sprinkler line with the robot (2008, our robot would get very tall!), and even now when working with shooting games we’re careful to check the ceiling to make sure we won’t hit a sprinkler, even with the elevated ceilings we now have! Hitting one can end up causing wide-spread damage!
  • Parking. Where and when you’ll be parking there can be important. Displacing their own employees is generally bad!
  • Power. 110V versus 220V, as well as locations for the power drops. Running extension cords all over the place because the plugs aren’t where they need to be, or over loading an outlet because it’s the only one nearby aren’t good plans!

We worked off-site until 2014, primarily at a rented space downtown with access to a machine shop at a sponsor in the same building (we were on the second floor, they were on the ground floor). Since we were renting our space, a lot of the stuff above wasn’t really a concern, but it was when we were working in the shop. We finally got a space in the school that opened up mid-season in 2013 (we moved in that summer), and were lucky enough to get to work with the school and construction company to help design the space to meet our needs. This included destructive testing of wall covering materials for the classroom/practice area (diamond plate for the first foot and a half, a sturdy plastic material of some sort above that up to 4 feet), location of power drops (including retractable drops from the ceiling over the tables), specific room layout, and direct exterior access (unlocked with a prox card, which the school can control access to on an hour-by-hour basis).

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That’s where that part is likely going.

Bumping this to see if anyone else had any experience with this. I appreciate the feedback to far!

Might be worthwhile to check in with the Makerspace community as well. When I was with the Baltimore Bolts (pre-moving to Texas) we did work out of a makerspace for a while and they had their own terms/conditions with tool training, use, hours, and expectations of supervision. Each student and mentor needed to sign a contract with the makerspace.

The space they are in currently does not have any other occupants but they do carry liability insurance for the property, iirc. The team is also set up as a 501c3.

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Since we started our community team 5 1/2 years ago we’ve worked out of two shops plus other facilities and are now looking for our own leased space. We spent our first two years at Sheridan College Skills Training Centre where they trained machinists, tool and die makers and millwrights etc. We had full access to their shop including 30+ vertical mills, lathes, waterjet, CNC equipment etc. We were given the code to the tool crib and told to have fun. Very few rules were put in place and there were hiccups as we went along - mostly involving cleaning up. Students and mentors had to wear CSA approved Green Shield footwear. We developed an incident report and procedures, a safety passport and training sessions to go with it. When the facility was moved to a neighbouring city we had to move out. We now have our own machines and are hosted by an entrepreneur who makes custom cabinets and just about anything else he can cut on his CNC router. We continue with the rules we developed at Sheridan. Communication is key. Mentors or kids are going to do something wrong, damage something or annoy someone sooner or later. Own up to it immediately and be prepared to show how you are going to prevent or cut down on these events. Make sure they have your contact information. Check in periodically to confirm that there are no issues. Have your own insurance and procedures in place. Tim Horton’s gift cards at Christmas go a long way to create a good relationship with cleaning and maintenance staff. Offer the use of your equipment and expertise if there’s something you can do that they can’t. Have a yard cleanup day. When we moved into our new facility the lighting was not good. A mentor arranged for the donation of a bunch of sample LED tube hanging fixtures and, as a licensed electrician, installed them. He and our other electrical mentors have done other wiring jobs for the owner. Another mentor who does micro machining has made parts for a positioning system for the owner’s router. Develop a leaving checklist so that the space is left in good shape and secure at the end of each work session.

If you’d like a copy of our team handbook, DM me and I’ll send it.


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