“Enjoy your career as a barista” might be a putdown in the mind of a certain hilaaarious New York Post columnist, but the folks at Grand Street Settlement believe that slinging coffee really can make a world of difference for local young adults. They just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a cafe staffed by at-risk youth. They’re calling it the Lower East Side’s first “nosh for profit.”
The GrandLo Cafe is expected to open in the spring at 178 Broome Street, in a donated space within the rapidly rising Essex Crossing development. It’ll offer “a high-quality café experience, while also providing job training to disconnected–out of school or out of work–youth,” according to the Kickstarter page. The campaign aims to raise $25,000 so that 60 employees can be hired and provided with “hands-on barista, food prep and café management training as well as life skills group and one-on-one coaching.” In addition to the two months of job training and placement, Grand Street Settlement will support its hires by helping them acquire housing, education, healthcare and childcare. The social-services organization is running the cafe with the help of an advisory board that includes representatives from other nonprofits as well as coffee companies like Counter Culture, Pushcart, and Porto Rico.
Yes, this is partly about keeping kids out of trouble; the Kickstarter notes that it’s far more cost effective to give someone job training than to put them up on Rikers Island. But it’s also about “building a bridge between the new Lower East Side–a neighborhood feeling the pressures of gentrification and market rate rents–and the old neighborhood,” by ensuring that local residents are hired for at least one of the businesses coming to the glitzy new Essex Crossing development.
The all-or-nothing fundraising campaign netted almost $7,000 during its first week, and there are some decent incentives to pitch in before it ends Jan 19. Anyone donating $7,500 or more gets a menu item named after them for one year.