Coffee + Jobs = Neighborhood Impact

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The UrbanLife Cafe will celebrate its first birthday this August! We have been working hard these last 10 months: perfecting a great cup of coffee, meeting as many YMCA members (aka customers!) as possible, and watching the Cafe make a big difference in City Heights.

Our Cafe Manager, UrbanLife alumna Lina Bell, has hired and trained an amazing cafe team to lead the operation into gross sales of $85,000. We constantly hear how much the YMCA staff and members love the Cafe, love the food, and love the Cafe staff! And beyond smiles and great service, the Cafe is having a powerful impact in our community.

Here are three things we see happening the the Cafe everyday:

  1. The Cafe has increased our neighborhood’s access to healthy food.   
    Using UrbanLife Farms’ fresh, organic produce in our smoothies, salads, and sandwiches we offer a local and healthy alternative to fast food. As we open up a farmstand at the Cafe on saturdays this summer, the Cafe will continue to help provide fresh produce in the midst of a food desert.

  2. The Cafe is a community gathering space.
    Want to learn how to play chess? A Cafe regular can teach you. Interested in learning a new language? You can hear at least a few different languages being spoken at the Cafe at any given moment. The Cafe is a fusion of diverse neighborhoods and a great place to build community.

  3. The Cafe changes the story for our youth.
    As young people flood the lobby of the Copley-Price Family YMCA daily, they get to see four strong young women from their neighborhood running a growing business.  As Lina leads, she holds the tension of putting people first and providing real opportunities to help change their lives. Her leadership is shaping the story for youth in our neighborhood… challenging them to believe in themselves, do hard things, and love your community.

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We are excited to continue to grow the Cafe program and our partnership with the YMCA. Next fall, we will partner with Y Strong Girls, an after-school program empowering 30 high school women with health & wellness education and entrepreneurship exposure.  

As the YMCA heads into the busiest season of the year, the Cafe is expecting great sales during the summer and anticipates breaking even in the next few months… a feat for any new food business! Come down to the Cafe for a meal and experience this transformative place yourself! We’ll see you there.

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Photos: Ellen Carlander