Caitlin Kannapell and Rachel Mauser are artist entrepreneurs making a difference in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood. In 2014 they combined forces to create Steam Exchange, a small nonprofit organization that is making a big impact on those it serves.
The Steam Exchange is a community arts organization where people of all ages and socioeconomic levels have access to tools and training to produce creative works. Its mission is to facilitate passion-driven learning experiences where individuals explore the arts through creative play and production. It uses the arts as a platform for young people to engage with concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in innovative ways (STEAM). Steam Exchange aims to foster a sense of community, pride and ownership in the Smoketown neighborhood and to encourage community-based creative entrepreneurship by connecting people with the skills and facilities to develop quality projects.
Caitlin and Rachel first approached the Norton Foundation a few years ago and have received operational grant funding. However, the Norton Foundation is keenly interested in recognizing and rewarding start-up organizations with a unique mission and positive outcomes. In 2017 the foundation provided a one-time grant to Steam Exchange to support the entrepreneurial spirit of Caitlin and Rachel and help them build organizational capacity to continue the organization’s growth and impact.
If you have a chance, check out the pictures on the website (www.steamexchange.org) that show the joy Caitlin and Rachel are bringing to Smoketown youth. They are passionate young women who know how the arts transform lives. Keep your eye on these two – they are hometown heroes.