Turns out, coffee may just empower youth to avoid the cycle of poverty, homelessness, and addiction.
UGM is teaming up with Project Hope and Indaba Coffee to train youth in job readiness – educating them in building a resume, how to get and keep a job, and coffee making skills – an effort called the Spokane Barista Academy.
First, here are some quick facts to know about the Academy:
- Individuals 16-20 may apply.
- The application can be found at http://spokanebaristaacademy.com/apply-today/ and is due Friday, June 3, 2016.
- It’s a six-week program that includes class work, hands-on barista training, and job shadowing.
- The program is free for participants.
Bobby Enslow, owner of Indaba shared his heart behind the venture: “For me, it came out of a heart of wanting to continue providing opportunities for at-risk youth in the neighborhood.”
Bobby, as well as James Kashork, Executive Director of Project Hope, and Joel Brown, UGM Vocational Education Manager, all believe Spokane Barista Academy does just that – provides opportunities to kids who think they have none.
Helping at-risk youth is becoming an increasingly formidable need. A recent study by Eastern Washington University indicated there are about 3,000 homeless students in Spokane, a number that is 33% higher than Washington state’s average. And for homeless youth, the cycle can be hard to avoid – possibly because kids feel limited to what they see around them.
“Often kids in poverty end up in a place where they look at their life, they look at their world and they think, this is what it is for me,” said James.
“There are lots of people in the world who [are asked], ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and say, ‘Oh I want to be a doctor or a firemen or a nurse or a teacher’ or whatever it may be. But a lot of these kids think, this is all there is for me…Well, it's not all there is.”
Practically speaking, James, Bobby, and Joel agree that the goal is for kids to complete the program with good job skills, a sense for what they enjoy – whether making coffee, customer service, or the hospitality industry – and ideally, a job.
But, they also agree that a real “success” would be having kids leave the Spokane Barista Academy able to see beyond their everyday circumstances to new opportunities.
“It provides hope, there’s hope outside of the world that they may feel trapped in sometimes,” said Bobby.
Joel echoed the desire to get kids out of that world and open them up to a different path.
“We are excited for the opportunity to impact Spokane youth’s lives in a positive way that has the potential to stop the cycle of homelessness.”
As far as UGM’s role in the Academy, Joel explains that the Mission will not only supply in-class job training, but as kids complete the class, UGM Youth Outreach Director Ryan Brown will provide participants a mentor from the UGM Student Impact Team who will meet with them and offer support even after they graduate from the Academy. “So they have some sort of healthy relationship coming out of the program,” said Bobby.
Altogether, the Spokane Barista Academy could be a much needed step in empowering at-risk youth.
So how can you get involved?
Aside from financial support or offering graduates jobs, James said, “The graduation will be a latte art competition. Come out and see these kids and what they’ve learned.
“That, in my mind, is part of what goes to creating hope. When a kid who went from ‘I’m not really sure what life holds for me’ to ‘Look what I’ve been able to do’ is recognized for that, that’s huge.”
Keep an eye on Spokane Barista Academy’s, as well as UGM’s, social media pages in the coming months to stay up to date with the program and find out when the graduation will take place.
Whether youth or adults, employment is key to breaking the cycle. Help men and women by becoming a business partner with UGM.