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The Red Bench Startup Fund

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We're The Red Bench, a community initiative in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (a.k.a YEG) that aims to increase the number of women who know how to use tools and who have an interest in trades and technology. We are closer than ever to opening our shop, but we need your help to tackle our startup costs. 

How will the money be used?

We would like to raise $2600 to pay for our first year of commercial general liability insurance. Any money raised in excess of our GoFundMe goal will be put toward paying our monthly utility costs in our shop, which are $450 per month.

Everything is in place to open our shop: your donation is essential to getting our lights on and doors open!

#LightsOnDoorsOpen #TheRedBenchYeg

What is the deadline for this campaign?

We hope to meet our GoFundMe goal by late fall.  We are grateful for any donation made by you and are ecstatic to have your support.

What is our story?

Mackenzi and Jolene met while doing undergraduate research for a welding-based student group at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. At the time, Mackenzi had developed a small, after-class program to teach her classmates - entirely women - how to weld and use shop equipment. Four to six women, including Jolene, regularly attended the sessions from November 2019 to March 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic forced closures at the university. Jolene and Mackenzi struck a friendship over their shared passion for welding but soon realized they had much more in common, including a desire to serve their community. Mackenzi and Jolene started talking about how great it would be to open the welding sessions to the general public.

Photo caption: Mackenzi (lower left) assisting a classmate practicing MIG welding during her after-class program. 

The two talked over coffees, lunches, and car rides about their shared experiences in the trades and an idea was born: a shop space for women to access tools, equipment, and peer mentoring as they explore technical skills - especially metalworking and welding skills - on their own terms. Jolene and Mackenzi spent summer evenings hammering down the vision, goals, and community that the workshop would serve and in September 2020 they incorporated The Red Bench Women's Workshop, The Red Bench for short, with the passion and drive to make their dream a reality.

What have we been up to?

We have been tirelessly building our business since September 2020 while balancing our full-time studies (yes, we are both still undergraduate students!) and internship work. From September 2020 until present, we have accomplished a lot - from writing a 35 page business plan to developing a complete health and safety program to penning a training protocol, COVID-19 response, and code of ethics - we have spoken at a conference, featured in two welding magazines, designed our own website, media materials, and social media presence and built a network of professional contacts, supporters, and allies.

This year, we won a $3,000 grant from the Edmonton Community Foundation to get us started on covering our insurance costs. We worked with an insurance broker to secure an insurance policy and partnered with a local engineering firm, Canwe Solutions Ltd., who generously donated a portion of their shop bay for us to operate in and call home.

Photo caption: Din (the owner of Canwe), Mackenzi, and Jolene in the shop.

Our GoFundMe goal is the next step, i.e. getting our insurance premiums covered, so we can get into our shop space safely (and legally) to start working on our pre-grand opening.

Who will benefit from this campaign?

The immediate benefactors of your donation are women in the Edmonton community. However, throughout the lifetime of The Red Bench we are excited to share our projects, workshops, and events in virtual spaces for every person to enjoy and to inspire women across the globe. Your donation to The Red Bench goes to more than just our insurance policy - it is a donation toward gender equity, uplifting women, and building community.

What drives us?

We started our journey in September 2020 in response to the lack of women in trades and technology. In Canada, women make up only 5% of apprentices in male-dominated trades such as welding, automotive mechanics, and carpentry and 20.6% of engineers.

We believe that the low number of women in these fields is due to gender stereotypes that drive women away from tinkering and experimenting with tools and garage-based DIY projects. Why? Because being comfortable with tools through hands-on experience while developing the confidence to build and create is central to developing technical competence! 

To us, the most effective way to encourage technical competence is by providing women with a shop space and a diverse tool library that allows them to explore trades and technology-based skills on their own terms. We are not a training or certification institution, rather we are a pre-training and pre-certification space that attracts women to trades and technology by providing them with the shop space and tools they need to work on non-commercial projects. The tools we provide are not only physical tools but the tools they need to build confidence, uplift themselves, and imagine their next steps.

At The Red Bench, women can get to know one another, find mentors to answer technical and career questions, contribute to group DIY projects, and work on their own DIY projects (for example, while watching a YouTube tutorial or following a manual), while supported by a community of mentors and like-minded individuals.

The Red Bench is a private corporation operating at net-zero. Net-zero means that all funding will be channeled into start up and operating costs and all work within the corporation is volunteer, including our own.

How can I learn more?

We would like to invite you to visit us on our webpage and social media at the links below.


Thank you for visiting our GoFundMe page and for your donation. It means so much to us <3

- Jolene and Mackenzi


  • Andrew Stevenson
    • $20 
    • 3 yrs
  • Gloria Burke
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs
  • Lindsay Sykes
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Lynn Laird
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $1,700 
    • 3 yrs


Mackenzi Jolene
Edmonton, AB

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