The Coffee Opp

The Problem

[img][/img] The Coffee Opp is a DreamMaker program of The Ink People with the mission of creating an art-infused safe haven in the form of a youth-run coffee house. The idea was conceived through youth-led community forums and surveys. Under the administrative direction of an AmeriCorps*VISTA member since December 2006, the group has been building partnerships within the community, fundraising through private donations and teen events, and conducting research for writing a business plan. The Coffee Opp is currently in the process of forming an Advisory Board composed of both teen and adult community members. Teens who have participated in Coffee Opp activities express appreciation for providing opportunities to exchange their hours of boredom for positive and stimulating activities, including a safe/sober Dance Party [img][/img], Functional Art workshops [img][/img], and a Poetry Slam [img][/img]. They are clamoring for more. The Coffee Opp recognizes how art can serve as the common ground for vastly differing groups of people, as well as provide a more fulfilling outlet for personal expression than substance use or violence. During the summer, as a tool for building our capacity to inhabit a permanent space, we are hosting the Trial-Size Coffee Opp which will be a pilot project for the grander vision. Each Monday night, 4pm – 9pm, June 25 – August 20, it will be Coffee Opp night at The Ink People facility. These Trial-Size Opportunities (or Opps) will be led by a team comprised of one paid Peer Educator (age 16 – 20), a volunteer adult advisor, and other youth volunteers. The Coffee Opp is collaborating with the Humboldt County Workforce Investment Board’s StepUp Jobs program to provide training and development for the Coffee Opp Peer Educator, [img][/img] which will develop their work skills and increase their employability. The Peer Educator will also be trained by the Coffee Opp Program Manager to lead Trial-Size participants in alcohol/drug-free fun, promote artistic expression as a sustainable and healthy choice, and implement a strong work ethic. At each Opp, the Drawing/Painting room at The Ink People will be transformed into a rocking safe-space where participants can read, engage in conversation, work on personal art projects, or just hang out. A variety of programs will also be scheduled for each Opp such as a performance-art themed kickoff party, open-mic night [img][/img], an improv competition, screenings of youth videos, hip-hop night, and writing workshops. Programming ideas have been gleaned directly from the suggestions made by past and current Coffee Opp participants. Coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages will be available along with snack items in accordance with Humboldt County Department of Health regulations. Through this summer program, the Coffee Opp will be building on its collaborative relationships with The Placebo, Synapsis, KKDS Blue Ox Youth Radio, The Young Media Makers, Boys and Girls’ Club Teen Center, Youth Services Bureau,4-H, Native Soul Productions, Muddy Waters Coffee Company and Six Rivers Planned Parenthood, while cultivating new community partnerships and recruiting volunteers. The Trial-Size experience will also provide valuable research that will guide the newly-formed Advisory Board to write a sustainable and effective business plan for The Coffee Opp. The Coffee Opp experience offers teens validation as they see their ideas come to fruition and have their needs acknowledged and met by their community. It is the prime Opportunity to empower a frequently unheard population, and as Eureka youth gain confidence and practical skills, they serve as models to their peers and contribute to the economic and social development of our community.

Plan of Action

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