The Garage Works Course is a community-based course. I’ll walk you and the rest of your cohort through the checklist step-by-step. Each week you’ll be given specific assignments to complete, there’ll be group activities to participate in, and you’ll be supported with additional resources. Throughout the program, you’ll be sharing your work with others, getting their feedback, reflecting and getting better. At the end of the coaching program, you’ll be in a position to launch your project into the world.

Who’s the instructor?

My name is Shawn Humphrey. I’m an award-winning Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Mary Washington, judge for the international standard-setting Social Impact Media Awards and founder of multiple globally-recognized movements, experiences and conferences. Over the years, I’ve formulated a unique methodology for beginning and sustaining projects in a low-cost manner. For example all of my projects cost me less than $100 per year to launch and maintain. Indeed, many of them cost me less than $50 per year.

Why would you want to take this course?

Here’s the thing about us humans. Whenever we lend the least bit of credence to the idea that we have something valuable to give to the world, we unleash an unimaginable internal struggle. The adrenaline that attends our initial dreaming is soon followed by a fog of self-doubt, uncertainty and insecurity. Coaching from me will help dissipate the paralyzing fear that attends the beginning of any new project. And, in the life-cycle of every project there comes a moment or two or three or more when we all lose a bit of confidence, question our capability to change the world. I’ll be there to remind you that you can.

Who is eligible?

Anyone 18 years and older who imagines the world differently, imagines it better, more just and livable, more democratic, humane, and beautiful.

How much does it cost?


Why is it free?

I’ve been teaching this course at my university since 2019. However, this will be my first time teaching this course in a manner that combines live weekly sessions and workshops, individualized coaching, scheduled group time and self-paced learning. This course, this time, is a test run. And, as you’ll learn in this course, the only way to learn how to do anything is to do that thing. So, instead of asking for money from you up front for the course, I’ll be asking for great testimonials from you at the end, which I’ll have to earn.

How long is the course?

The course lasts for eight weeks. Here are the details:

  • Begins during the first week of June 2021.
  • Ends during the last week of July 2021.
  • This is a hybrid learning course combining live weekly sessions and workshops, individualized coaching, scheduled group time and self-paced learning.
  • The course is 100% virtual.
  • You and your cohort members will meet with me once a week for 1 hour (day and time tbd)
  • I’ll also be available for one-on-one coaching sessions

Where do we meet?

On zoom.

Three things I’ll have your doing:

  • Starting too soon. You cannot figure out the why of your work by thinking alone. You need to act. So, I’m gonna have you sharing your work with the world in all its incomplete and imperfect glory. Trust me, you’ll survive.
  • Outpacing your insecurities. They’re real. They’re powerful. And, giving them the space and time to be heard and reflected upon is key. However, I’ll also have you sharing your work with the world too quickly for them to get in the way.
  • Finding your funky. The world is not changed by innocuous. You need to find your niche, your weird, your funky. Some may ask you to rub away all of your sharp edges. I’ll ask you to sharpen them.

What else will we be doing?

Here’s an overview of some of the things you’ll be doing:

  • Zero in on the WHY of your work
  • Articulate your values
  • Identify your role and place in the process of social change.
  • Create your own network (ecosystem, customer and power)
  • Build a project that is yours – your voice, your values, your way
  • Utilize tools to reach, educate, and connect with your target audience.
  • Say “I don’t know”
  • Say “I need help” and seek it out from others
  • See abundance around you
  • Excel under pressure.
  • Fail, get back up, try again and humbly succeed.
  • Beginner – You’ll learn to begin what you want to begin where you are at and with whatever expertise, connections, and resources that you’ve got.
  • Live coaching sessions with Shawn
  • Questions to guide your thinking
  • Live interaction with the peers in your cohort
  • Discussion board for group learning
  • Group Q&A zooms with Shawn
  • Live one-on-one coaching zooms with Shawn
  • Brand identity
  • Prototyped Website
  • Content with which to spread your idea
  • Effective social media architecture
  • Power network and more…
  • Write a mission statement
  • Secure non-profit status
  • Raise money via grant funding
  • Build a board of directors
  • Blah, blah, blah

These things are important (well, some of them); but, you don’t need non-profit status, or a board, or a grant to get started. And, when was the last time that you read a mission statement that gave you goosebumps? Never, right. All of the bulleted-items above (and more) are artefacts of an earlier age. Worse than that. Those things in that list can form a secret alliance with your fears to stomp out your beginning. Indeed, those in position of power may ask you where those things in that list are for your project because that’s what they have. It’s not their intention to slow you down, sow the seed of doubt and give you imposter syndrome. Hell, maybe it is. Who knows? But, right now, at this stage in the life-cycle of your project, those things in that list are a distraction. Beginnings need to begin. So, we’ll be ignoring those things (and more).

  • I am not a tech-savvy human being. I am a hack-savvy human being. I find ways to make things happen. So, as far technical support (like writing code for your website) from me to you, I’m sorry to say this; but, don’t count on it.

My Promise: Transfiguration

If you enroll in this course, I promise you that there’s gonna be some setbacks with your project (most of them self-inflicted). Things will get dark. You will want to retreat. Indeed, you may find yourself closing the shades, lying on the floor, and curling up in the fetal position. Our culture will tell you that you can find relief in material possessions and empty calories. It’s a lie. You cannot. The only path to forward is to rework your project. I promise that you’ll not be alone. I’ll be there with you giving you the tools and support you need to take on your self-doubt. However, I cannot promise you that your project will succeed. It may fail. And, if it does, that okay. I mean. It’s gonna hurt. But, in the process of building your project, you’ll develop the techniques, tactics and strategies to go head-to-head with your fears. And, those things are more important than any concept I could teach you. So, while I cannot guarantee your project’s success, I can guarantee you that you’ll be transfigured. Because, once you master this Grassroot Garage methodology, you’ll always have it and be able to use it again and again for any and all other projects.

How do I apply?

First, complete the application form (see below). I’ll follow up with a quick email letting you know that I received it and begin setting a date and time for a one-on-one call with you. The call will cover your motivation for doing work in the social innovation space and most importantly your commitment to the work. If after the call, we conclude that we’re a good fit for one another and you’re a good fit for the course, then you’ll be approved for the course. Here are the steps once again:

  1. Complete the Application Form (see below)
  2. Scheduled a Call
  3. Complete On-boarding Instructions (once you’re approved)

The application process is competitive. Only ten students will be invited to enroll in the 2021 Summer Course. Here are the details:

  • The application process opens on January 20, 2021 (12 pm EST)
  • The application process closes on March 30, 2021 (5 pm EST)
  • One-on-One Calls with Shawn begin on April 1, 2021
  • The ten spaces will be awarded on April 30, 2021