The Monkey & The Elephant

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish (100 words):
The STAKE Grant would be applied towards The Monkey & the Elephant (M&E). M&E will be a cafe which employs former foster youth offering job and life skills training in a supportive community-driven environment. Youth employed by M&E will be connected to support programs including: affordable housing, GED and higher education programs and future employment opportunities. The most important component of M&E is community. M&E strives to create a supportive community for participants who are thrown into adulthood between 18 and 21 with no safety net of family or a concrete community structure to rely on.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget (50 words):
The STAKE Grant will allow M&E to hire our first youth employee and begin building the community, life and job skills training and mentoring that will form the foundation of M&E. A portion of the grant will also go towards materials and equipment needed for the cafe.

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal) (100 words):
I was inspired to create this cafe by my experience of community while working in cafes and by a 16 year old Zimbabwean refugee I met 5 years ago. My friend from Zimbabwe was living in South Africa when we met and has since aged out of the system there. For him, I was only able to listen and offer encouraging words. For former foster youth in Philadelphia, I can give them that supportive community they need to bridge the gap between foster care and independence.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community? (100 words):
There are 400,000 kids in foster care, 30,000 age out each year. Studies show that youth aging out of care are likely to be unemployed due to low educational attainment, lack of family/community support and little to no job training. Giving former foster youth the opportunity to gain job skills and further their education in a supportive environment will allow them to be successful in future endeavors. The community benefits because these youth will become self-sufficient members of society (who can make a mean cup of coffee!).