I recently read about an exciting new partnership between Starbucks, a for-profit company, and the Queens Community House, a non-profit, multi-service settlement house with 25 sites in 11 neighborhoods in New York City. I was intrigued.
Queens Community House solidified a partnership with Starbucks to create the first US-based "opportunity café," which will be located in Jamaica, Queens. The new store is an example of Starbucks' nationwide initiative through which it seeks to deepen its commitment to communities by hiring local staff, engaging area vendors and providing a dedicated in-store training space for use by non-profits. In this new “opportunity café,” QCH will provide training to young adults who are interested in the food sector in order to provide unemployed youth with the skills and experience they need to launch a successful career in the food sector.
Reading about this partnership brought to mind a few other interesting ways food organizations are giving back to their communities by working together with for-profit companies. Panera Cares, is operated by Panera Bread, the bakery / restaurant, and is a chain of community cafes in neighborhoods around the country where the restaurant provides suggested donation amounts for all menu items and customers pay what they can and the excess goes to charity, and where one can earn a meal voucher by volunteering in the cafe.
Recipe for Change, run by Chef Bruno Abate from Tocco Restaurant in Chicago, is a course that teaches prison inmates everything from knife skills and kitchen sanitation to recipes for pastas, sauces and desserts — key job skills they can use when they're released and looking for employment. The program builds self-esteem and teaches inmates about good nutrition.
Hot Bread Kitchen, a bakery and non-profit social enterprise in Brooklyn, aims to build lasting economic security for low-income, immigrant and minority individuals by training and supporting them in achieving jobs and fair wages in the culinary industry. Two-thirds of the organization’s operating budget is funded through sales of bread and rental of commercial kitchen space, and is used to train and educate individuals so they can turn their passion for cooking into a profession that can be used to achieve economic security.
This kind of partnership not only is exciting for what it will do for the neighborhoods and the participants involved, but is good food for thought as to how non-profits and for-profits can work together in creative ways to better communities and make a positive difference in the world.