IRS Response 2009 06

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Contents

Request

The IRS responded to our 501(c)3 application with a request for additional information (7MB PDF). We are responding as follows.

Response Context

Our lawyer has asked us to focus on responses to Questions 2, 3,5, 7,8, and 10 from the IRS request for information. We met with her at 11AM on Friday 6 June 2009. Based on that meeting, we have the following TODOs:

0) TODO Write a short paragraph introducing Noisebridge and framing our contributions to the general public. For example, one possible framing is as an "independent community center with a focus on art and technology."

1) TODO Update our budget for 2008 and 2009-to-date in the submission to the IRS to reflect what we actually spent.

2) TODO Consolidate the verbiage in the response to avoid repetition, especially for all free activities.

3) TODO Directly address the issue of people living at the space, for example with meeting minutes where we discuss no one should live there or statements from people who have politely informed people that living in the space is not ok.

4) Clarify residency program

  • TODO Give examples of previous people who would be potential residents, such as Enki and Thomas, including what they contributed to Noisebridge and the general public.
  • TODO Clarify that stipend would be only travel expenses (well, talk about if that's what we want..?)

5) (done) Make sure ExCEL program advised NB is 501c3 pending, not yet 501c3 (this is DONE)

6) Demonstrate publicity is working to attract new people from general public to the space.

  • TODO Collect fliers from Maker Faire.
  • TODO Collect news articles.
  • TODO Collect blog entries from middle school students
  • TODO Give rough estimates of # new members not friends of existing members per month

7) Inventory issues

  • TODO Check who is running inventory of books, other NB materials
  • TODO Write paragraph clarifying how NB materials are not the same as individual members' project materials (see Question 10)

8) TODO Time matrix - make hours add up to 24 x 7 per week or account for overlapping activities

Introductory Paragraph

Noisebridge is an independent community center that focuses on education in art and technology for the general public.

Question 2: Time Matrix

Note: I made a one-off gDocs spreadsheet anyone can edit for this, here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=r04ctAsgVjhOuFLr-LLSA_g&hl=en. Anyone (and I do mean anyone can edit it) -jbm

Time usage matrix

Activity  %time (must sum to 100)

Circuit Hacking Monday

ExCEL project

Noisebridge Meeting

Python Class

Haskell Class

Machine Learning Wednesday

Mandarin Corner

German

Design Huddle

Five Minutes of Fame

VFX Class

Crazy Crypto Night

Cyborg Group

Text Response

Question 2: Noisebridge Activities

The following apply unless noted in the description of a specific activity.

2.0.c Activities are conducted at the main Noisebridge facility, located at 83C Wiese Street, San Francisco, CA.

2.0.f Activities are part of a series of Noisebridge education activities that are open to the general public. As such, the activity is important to Noisebridge's mission and exempt purposes.

2.0.g Anyone may participate in activities. In particular, participation is not limited to Noisebridge members.

2.0.h Anyone who shows up at the Noisebridge facility at an activity's scheduled time and wishes to participate, participates. In the event that there are not enough materials or space to accomodate everyone, participation slots are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

2.0.i No member of Noisebridge and no instructor of the activity receive any financial benefit from the activity.

2.0.k The events are free and readily accessible to the general public.

Noisebridge advertises events on the front page of its web site http://noisebridge.net . Instructors also send periodic reminders of the activity to electronic mailing lists run by Noisebridge and to other electronic mailing lists. Noisebridge has also advertised the event at Maker Faire 2009, a public event held 29 and 30 May 2009 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, as part of a booth at the fair.

2.0.l The purpose of Noisebridge set out in its bylaws is

"The purpose of this corporation is to promote and encourage technical, scientific, and artistic skills through individual projects, social collaboration, and education. Also in the context of these purposes, the corporation shall engage in scientific, charitable and educational activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to: (a). Through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space. (b). Provide educational spaces for teaching practical skills and theory of technology, science, and art. (c). Provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art, science, and technology that will benefit the individual members' personal growth in their fields of interest, encouraging the individual members to share their projects and knowledge for the betterment of society through art, science and technology. (d). To create, learn, and teach, individually and as a group, inviting members of the community in the San Francisco Bay area and the world. (e). To develop, support the development of, and provide resources for the development of free and open source software and hardware for the benefit of society. (f). Collaboration across disciplines for the benefit of cultural, charitable, and scientific causes. (g). To foster, by all legal means, the common purposes of its participants. (h). To conduct or engage in all lawful activities in furtherance of the stated purposes or those incidental to them."

The activity furthers the exempt charitable purposes of Noisebridge by providing free instruction to the general public in basic skills required to create new electronics technology. This falls under paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (g), and (h) of the Noisebridge exempt purpose.

2.0.o See matrix of time attached.

2.1 Circuit Hacking Monday

2.1.a The activity offers instruction in "soldering," which is a basic skill required to build electronics. The following extended description appears at the web page advertising the activity, available at https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/Circuit_Hacking_Mondays

"Learn to solder! Mitch will bring kits to make cool, practical, intriguing, hackable things that you can bring home after you make it. Of course, you can also bring your own projects to hack.

Anyone can learn to solder! Even if you have never made anything in your life, you can learn this very useful and enjoyable skill. It really is fun! Mitch has taught thousands of people to solder all around the world, and he can teach you, too! Add yourself to the ever increasing community!"

2.1.b The instructor is Mitch Altman. Altman's qualifications include being a founder of 3Ware, pioneering virtual reality research at VPL Research, and founding Cornfield Electronics. In addition, Mitch has run soldering teaching sessions at a variety of locations across the world. Mitch Altman is also a Noisebridge member, the Noisebridge treasurer, and a member of the Noisebridge board of directors. See his wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitch_Altman


The instructor is responsible for teaching participants the skill of soldering. This skill is fundamental to building electronics.

The instructor's duties are to greet participants, then assesses each participant's current level of skill. The instructor then works with each participant to improve his or her soldering skills. Typically, this will be done by the participant completing a small project under the supervision of the instructor.

2.1.c The activity is conducted at the main Noisebridge facility, located at 83C Wiese Street, San Francisco, CA.

2.1.d The activity is conducted every Monday night from 8:30PM until participants agree to stop.

2.1.e The instructors deeply believe in teaching anyone who wants to learn the basic skills required to build electronics. No instructor receives a financial benefit or has any financial interest from the activity.

2.1.f The activity is part of a series of Noisebridge education activities that are open to the general public. As such, the activity is important to Noisebridge's mission and exempt purposes.

2.1.g Anyone may participate in the activity. In particular, participation is not limited to Noisebridge members.

2.1.h Anyone who shows up at the Noisebridge facility at 8:30PM on Monday night and wishes to participate in the activity participates. In the event that there are not enough materials or space to accomodate everyone, participation slots are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

2.1.i Participants may optionally buy kits containing parts required to build small electronic devices. Noisebridge charges only the cost of parts. Noisebridge offers different kits with a range of $7 to $25. Purchasing such a kit is not required for participation; participants may bring in their own electronics projects for soldering instruction.

During the activity, we also suggest donations to Noisebridge in the $3 to $5 range per person, but participation is encouraged even without such donations. All donations go directly to Noisebridge. No member of Noisebridge and no instructor of the activity receive any financial benefit from the activity.

2.1.k The event is free and readily accessible to the general public. As described in 2.1.i, participants may optionally buy kits containing parts for small devices and may optionally donate to Noisebridge, but there is no fee for participation.

Noisebridge advertises the event on the front page of its web site http://noisebridge.net . Instructors also send periodic reminders of the activity to electronic mailing lists run by Noisebridge and to other electronic mailing lists. Noisebridge has also advertised the event at Maker Faire 2009, a public event held 29 and 30 May 2009 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, as part of a booth at the fair.

2.1.l The purpose of Noisebridge set out in its bylaws is

"The purpose of this corporation is to promote and encourage technical, scientific, and artistic skills through individual projects, social collaboration, and education. Also in the context of these purposes, the corporation shall engage in scientific, charitable and educational activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to: (a). Through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space. (b). Provide educational spaces for teaching practical skills and theory of technology, science, and art. (c). Provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art, science, and technology that will benefit the individual members' personal growth in their fields of interest, encouraging the individual members to share their projects and knowledge for the betterment of society through art, science and technology. (d). To create, learn, and teach, individually and as a group, inviting members of the community in the San Francisco Bay area and the world. (e). To develop, support the development of, and provide resources for the development of free and open source software and hardware for the benefit of society. (f). Collaboration across disciplines for the benefit of cultural, charitable, and scientific causes. (g). To foster, by all legal means, the common purposes of its participants. (h). To conduct or engage in all lawful activities in furtherance of the stated purposes or those incidental to them."

The activity furthers the exempt charitable purposes of Noisebridge by providing free instruction to the general public in basic skills required to create new electronics technology. This falls under paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (g), and (h) of the Noisebridge exempt purpose.

2.1.m Noisebridge dedicates 0% of total general funds to this activity. Specifically, no labor costs are involved in the activity because the instructor donates his time. Costs for parts are covered by the participants, either in the form of their own electronics projects or in the purchase of optional electronics kits. Noisebridge does pay for the rent of the facility used for this activity, but the rent money is not specifically earmarked for this activity.

2.1.n Some of the kits available for purchase during the activity are designed by Cornfield Electronics, which is a company founded by the instructor and Noisebridge treasurer Mitch Altman. Cornfield Electronics donates the design of the kits, including the list of parts required and instructions for assembly to the general public.

2.1.o See matrix of time attached.

2.2 San Francisco Unified School District ExCEL Project (Pending Activity)

2.2.a Noisebridge recently partnered with Teach Me To Make to propose after-school instruction in basic electronics for children in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The proposal has been filed with the ExCEL program of SFUSD. Noisebridge is currently waiting for a response from the ExCEL program.

We have a page on the Noisebridge web site dedicated to this effort: https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/Sfusd_excel_program

The page links to a detailed proposal, including budget, to the SFUSD ExCEL program. The proposal is also attached to this response to the request for information.

2.2.b From the proposal:

"Our organizations [Noisebridge and Teach Me To Make] include a great many members covering a wide range of skills, experiences, and areas of expertise. While many may participate in the ExCEL program as guest speakers, a much smaller subset will be the formal instructional personnel.

Teachers are chosen on the basis of knowledge, interpersonal skills, and the ability to impart their knowledge to students in a clear, easy-to- follow manner. To participate in this program, teachers must show sensitivity to the needs and understanding of different students, and must be able to explain concepts in alternate ways appropriate to each students. Teachers must be patient, good listeners, and respectful." Please also see the attached proposal.

Qualification, Position descriptions, and duties for parties involved

  • Lee Sonko - Coordinator and instructor. Lee has taught computer classes to adults children, he had held a substitute teacher certification in New Jersey, he has managed and owned businesses requiring coordination of activities.
  • Michael Shiloh - Coordinator and instructor.
  • J.D. Zamfirescu - Coordinator and instructor.
  • Mitch Altman - Coordinator and instructor.
  • Other members of Noisebridge - instructors.


2.2.c The activity will be conducted at local schools of the San Francisco Unified School District. Specific schools will be established if the proposal is accepted by the SFUSD.

2.2.d The time of the activity will be established jointly by Noisebridge, Teach Me To Make, and SFUSDif the proposal is accepted by the SFUSD.

2.2.e The Noisebridge members involved with the proposal have a deep and passionate commitment to teaching others basic electronic skills. In addition, the proposal includes financial compensation for time spent teaching. Please refer to the attached proposal budget for details.

2.2.f The activity forms part of Noisebridge's efforts at outreach to the general public. Because this activity will, if accepted by SFUSD, take Noisebridge's educational mission directly to children in their schools, the activity is significant.

2.2.g School children enrolled in participating schools within the SFUSD may participate.

2.2.h If the proposed activity is accepted by SFUSD, Noisebridge will work with SFUSD to determine criteria for selecting participants in the event.

2.2.i Please see attached budget.

2.2.j Yes, the proposal budget includes $3840 compensation for teaching time for an electronics teacher, as shown in the attached budget.

2.2.k The activity, if accepted by SFUSD, will be free and accessible to students enrolled in schools of the SFUSD. The activity will be advertised by participating schools.

2.2.l The purpose of Noisebridge set out in its bylaws is

"The purpose of this corporation is to promote and encourage technical, scientific, and artistic skills through individual projects, social collaboration, and education. Also in the context of these purposes, the corporation shall engage in scientific, charitable and educational activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to: (a). Through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space. (b). Provide educational spaces for teaching practical skills and theory of technology, science, and art. (c). Provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art, science, and technology that will benefit the individual members' personal growth in their fields of interest, encouraging the individual members to share their projects and knowledge for the betterment of society through art, science and technology. (d). To create, learn, and teach, individually and as a group, inviting members of the community in the San Francisco Bay area and the world. (e). To develop, support the development of, and provide resources for the development of free and open source software and hardware for the benefit of society. (f). Collaboration across disciplines for the benefit of cultural, charitable, and scientific causes. (g). To foster, by all legal means, the common purposes of its participants. (h). To conduct or engage in all lawful activities in furtherance of the stated purposes or those incidental to them."

The activity furthers the exempt charitable purposes of Noisebridge by providing instruction to public school children in basic skills required to create new electronics technology. This falls under paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (g), and (h) of the Noisebridge exempt purposes.


2.2.m Noisebridge devotes no funds directly to this activity. Funding for the activity, if approved, will comes from the ExCEL program of the SFUSD.

2.2.n The proposal is joint between Noisebridge and Teach Me To Make. One principal of Teach Me To Make, Michael Shiloh, is also a member of Noisebridge, but Teach Me To Make is a separate organization. For more information on Teach Me To Make, see their web site http://www.teachmetomake.com/

2.2.o See attached matrix.

Noisebridge Free Activities

The following activities fall under Noisebridge "Free Activities." For all Free Activities, unless noted, the following answers to Question 2(b),(c),(d),(e),(f),(g) apply.

2.3 Python Class

2.3.a Noisebridge offers free instruction in the computer language Python. Python is a popular language used in developing new web sites. Please see attached class announcements distributed to Noisebridge electronic mailing lists.

2.3.b The activity was created by Noisebridge member Asheesh Laroia. Asheesh is a professional programmer and startup founder with several years of experience working in Python. Asheesh led the first round of classes.

Currently the activity is led by Noisebridge member Daniel C. Silverstein. Daniel holds a bachelors degree in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley, and is a professional programmer with deep expertise in building large scalable web services. Daniel has over a decade of experience with a variety of programming languages including several years working in Python.

2.3.c The activity is conducted at the main Noisebridge facility at 83C Wiese Street, San Francisco, CA.

2.3.d The activity is conducted every Monday at 6:30PM.

2.3.e The teaching of Python has deep personal interest to Asheesh and Dan; several Noisebridge members also enjoy learning new programming languages. No Noisebridge member has a financial interest in the development of the language.

2.3.f The activity is a part of Noisebridge's mission of offering education in art and technology to the general public.

2.3.g Any member of the general public may participate in the activity.

2.3.h Anyone who shows up at the Noisebridge facility at 6:30PM on Monday night and wishes to participate in the activity participates. In the event that there are not enough materials or space to accomodate everyone, participation slots are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

2.3.i There is no fee for participation in the activity.

2.3.j No member of Noisebridge receives any financial incentive to teach or to participate in this activity. 2.3.k The activity is free and readily accessible to the general public. The activity is advertised through electronic mailing lists, on the front page of the Noisebridge web site, and announced at Noisebridge general meetings.

2.3.l The purpose of Noisebridge set out in its bylaws is

"The purpose of this corporation is to promote and encourage technical, scientific, and artistic skills through individual projects, social collaboration, and education. Also in the context of these purposes, the corporation shall engage in scientific, charitable and educational activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to: (a). Through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space. (b). Provide educational spaces for teaching practical skills and theory of technology, science, and art. (c). Provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art, science, and technology that will benefit the individual members' personal growth in their fields of interest, encouraging the individual members to share their projects and knowledge for the betterment of society through art, science and technology. (d). To create, learn, and teach, individually and as a group, inviting members of the community in the San Francisco Bay area and the world. (e). To develop, support the development of, and provide resources for the development of free and open source software and hardware for the benefit of society. (f). Collaboration across disciplines for the benefit of cultural, charitable, and scientific causes. (g). To foster, by all legal means, the common purposes of its participants. (h). To conduct or engage in all lawful activities in furtherance of the stated purposes or those incidental to them."

The activity furthers the exempt charitable purposes of Noisebridge by providing free instruction to the general public in how to program computers. This falls under paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (g), and (h) of the Noisebridge exempt purpose.

2.3.m No funds are devoted specifically to this activity. Noisebridge does pay the rent for the facility used by this activity, but those funds are not devoted specifically to the activity.

2.3.n Noisebridge works with no other individual members or organizations for this activity.

2.3.o See attached time matrix.

2.4 Haskell Class

2.4.a Noisebridge offers free instruction in the computer language Haskell. Haskell is a language noted for its stress on a "pure functional" style, which differs significantly from traditional computer languages.

2.4.b The activity was created and is led by Noisebridge member Jason Dusek.

2.4.c The activity is conducted at the main Noisebridge facility at 83C Wiese Street, San Francisco, CA.

2.4.d The activity is conducted every Tuesday at 6:30PM.

2.4.e The teaching of Haskell has deep personal interest to Jason; several Noisebridge members also enjoy learning new programming languages. No Noisebridge member has a financial interest in the development of the language.

2.4.f The activity is a part of Noisebridge's mission of offering education in art and technology to the general public.

2.4.g Any member of the general public may participate in the activity.

2.4.h Anyone who shows up at the Noisebridge facility at 6:30PM on Tuesday night and wishes to participate in the activity participates. In the event that there are not enough materials or space to accomodate everyone, participation slots are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

2.4.i There is no fee for participation in the activity.

2.4.j No member of Noisebridge receives any financial incentive to teach or to participate in this activity.

2.4.k The activity is free and readily accessible to the general public. The activity is advertised through electronic mailing lists, on the front page of the Noisebridge web site, and announced at Noisebridge general meetings.

2.4.l The purpose of Noisebridge set out in its bylaws is

"The purpose of this corporation is to promote and encourage technical, scientific, and artistic skills through individual projects, social collaboration, and education. Also in the context of these purposes, the corporation shall engage in scientific, charitable and educational activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to: (a). Through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space. (b). Provide educational spaces for teaching practical skills and theory of technology, science, and art. (c). Provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art, science, and technology that will benefit the individual members' personal growth in their fields of interest, encouraging the individual members to share their projects and knowledge for the betterment of society through art, science and technology. (d). To create, learn, and teach, individually and as a group, inviting members of the community in the San Francisco Bay area and the world. (e). To develop, support the development of, and provide resources for the development of free and open source software and hardware for the benefit of society. (f). Collaboration across disciplines for the benefit of cultural, charitable, and scientific causes. (g). To foster, by all legal means, the common purposes of its participants. (h). To conduct or engage in all lawful activities in furtherance of the stated purposes or those incidental to them."

The activity furthers the exempt charitable purposes of Noisebridge by providing free instruction to the general public in how to program computers. This falls under paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (g), and (h) of the Noisebridge exempt purpose.

2.4.m No funds are devoted specifically to this activity. Noisebridge does pay the rent for the facility used by this activity, but those funds are not devoted specifically to the activity.

2.4.n Noisebridge works with no other individual members or organizations for this activity.

2.4.o See attached time matrix.

2.5 Noisebridge Weekly Meeting

2.5.a Noisebridge hosts an open weekly meeting to discuss current issues of interest to the general public and to members of Noisebridge. The weekly meeting is the method used by Noisebridge to bring up questions for discussion and resolution by the Noisebridge membership.

2.5.b All members of the general public may participate in the activity. Decisions are made by consensus. Members of Noisebridge may block consensus, causing no action to be taken on a specific issue, while members of the general public may not.

2.5.c The activity is conducted at the main Noisebridge facility at 83C Wiese Street, San Francisco, CA.

2.5.d The activity is conducted every Tuesday at 8PM.

2.5.e Every member of Noisebridge has an interest in the weekly meeting because it is where decisions are made about the direction of Noisebridge.

2.5.f The activity is critical because it determines what other activities will be carried out as part of Noisebridge's mission of offering education in art and technology to the general public.

2.5.g Any member of the general public may participate in the activity. To block consensus, however, a person must be a member of Noisebridge.

2.5.h Anyone who shows up at the Noisebridge facility at 8PM on Tuesday night and wishes to participate in the activity participates. In the event that there are not enough materials or space to accomodate everyone, participation slots are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

2.5.i There is no fee for participation in the activity.

2.5.j No member of Noisebridge receives any financial incentive to participate in this activity.

2.5.k The activity is free and readily accessible to the general public. The activity is advertised through electronic mailing lists, on the front page of the Noisebridge web site, and announced at Noisebridge general meetings.

2.5.l The purpose of Noisebridge set out in its bylaws is

"The purpose of this corporation is to promote and encourage technical, scientific, and artistic skills through individual projects, social collaboration, and education. Also in the context of these purposes, the corporation shall engage in scientific, charitable and educational activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to: (a). Through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space. (b). Provide educational spaces for teaching practical skills and theory of technology, science, and art. (c). Provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art, science, and technology that will benefit the individual members' personal growth in their fields of interest, encouraging the individual members to share their projects and knowledge for the betterment of society through art, science and technology. (d). To create, learn, and teach, individually and as a group, inviting members of the community in the San Francisco Bay area and the world. (e). To develop, support the development of, and provide resources for the development of free and open source software and hardware for the benefit of society. (f). Collaboration across disciplines for the benefit of cultural, charitable, and scientific causes. (g). To foster, by all legal means, the common purposes of its participants. (h). To conduct or engage in all lawful activities in furtherance of the stated purposes or those incidental to them."

The activity furthers the exempt charitable purposes of Noisebridge by directing Noisebridge's future efforts and projects. This falls under paragraphs (a), (b), (c ), (d),(e), (f), (g), and (h) of the Noisebridge exempt purpose.

2.5.m No funds are devoted specifically to this activity. Noisebridge does pay the rent for the facility used by this activity, but those funds are not devoted specifically to the activity.

2.5.n Noisebridge works with no other individual members or organizations for this activity.

2.5.o See attached time matrix.

= 2.6 Machine Learning Wednesday

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