LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Casters Coffee Roasters

Street Company (SC) manages a coffee roasting social enterprise and proposes to offer a 12-week job readiness program for homeless individuals in the Antelope Valley community. The program will provide basic job skill development (short-term pre-vocational services) and essential soft skills trainings (workforce preparation, readiness, and skill development) focused on economic self-sufficiency in the hospitality field - coffee roasting and brewing - aimed to increase permanent employment in the food and restaurant industry.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Antelope Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Individuals experiencing homelessness face tremendous obstacles in finding and maintaining viable employment. They may feel stigmatized when seeking even basic assistance. SC has a deeper level of understanding as all staff have lived experience. SC was founded by a group of homeless people in Lancaster, with the intent on becoming healthy and self-reliant. At our core, SC is an employer who understands the vulnerabilities of our peers on the streets and works diligently to create an environment where they feel compassion, rather than competition, while they develop soft skills, life skills, and employment experience as a springboard to self-reliance. SC looks at the whole person and not just an employee. What started as a basic coffee catering and event business - has developed and expanding into a wholesale coffee roasting social enterprise that provides training, soft and hard skill development, transitional employment, and case management for people experiencing homelessness.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Homelessness is considered a conduit of poor health and limited access to care. Street Company feels that treating homelessness as a health and social issue is critical to improving health and achievement outcomes of people experiencing homelessness. Research suggests many of these disparities can be reduced or prevented with supportive services, providing linkages and access to critical resources that can include, mental health services, medical and dental services, legal services, housing, and food resources. Street Company strongly believes we are suited to address the needs of our priority population with a three-pronged approach: (1) vocational training and job placement, (2) case management, and (3) supportive services. SC has been conducting empowerment projects to roast coffee beans, providing support groups, vocational trainings, and supportive services for over 8 years. In July 2022, SC launched the wholesale coffee roasting social enterprise, "Caster Coffee". Since July, Casters Coffee is selling beans to businesses and SC has remained committed to use 100% of coffee sales revenue to employ homeless people. SC has developed a strong training team of 5 people with lived experience, acquired a training and roasting facility, launched a successful coffee brewing and roasting business, and case management system.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

SC has been providing services to the community for over 8 years - starting with "The General Assembly" weekly support group at a park in Lancaster which initiated formally in Sept 2016. SC served roughly 50 homeless individuals per week from 2016 to 2020 through these direct services. Due to the pandemic, these services became limited. SC has expertise in providing employment and job trainings in a coffee roasting manufacturing setting. In 2018, SC provided 6 months coffee brewing lessons and basic job trainings to 6 homeless individuals. In 2019, 4 individuals successfully completed the training program and participated in coffee catering services. The homeless coffee catering team served coffee at nearly 60 public events throughout LA. Since 2019, SC has provided case management services and support to homeless individuals - linking to medical and treatment facilities, self-sufficiency, and housing services. SC is changing the homeless community and LA County immensely.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Street Company will measure impact through a multi-pronged approach - this will include touchpoints to services of (1) job placement, (2) linkages to services (i.e., mental health, medical, case management, support groups, empowerment project), and (3) system navigation services (supportive services). Street Company (SC) manages a coffee roasting social enterprise and proposes to offer a 12-week job readiness program to 10 to 12 participants annually. A key component of Street Company (SC) services is the support group/healing circle that will provide groups to 80 to 100 homeless community members referred to as "Sunday General Assembly" - a peer-led supportive community for participants who are or have experienced homelessness aimed to share experiences, challenges, barriers, success, and motivation to encourage positive behaviors and decisions. SC will provide intensive case management services - serving 40 to 50 participants and empowerment projects - serving 25 to 30 participants.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 250

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Not applicable.