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Coffee stand hires homeless teens to combat homelessness

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Carley Kammerer
Kammerer working with the teens at their coffee stand

What better way to fight teen homelessness than with learning crucial employment skills? Gutter Punk Coffee provides a safe and open community for homeless teens in Minneapolis to learn the necessary skills of the workforce for the rest of their lives. Their mission statement is to “… serve quality coffee to our customers, while simultaneously providing employment training and practical skills to our employees” which reflects exactly what they’re doing.

Owners Carley Kammerer and Ben Griswold inspire many homeless teens to see their hard work pay off as they are getting back on their feet. According to the features on their website, many can feel a sense of community without judgment.

“We specifically work to pay our youth a livable wage and enough hours that would allow them to actually leave homelessness. A huge goal of ours is to get youth into a space where they can think beyond survival and envision what they’d like for their future. We have intentionally built-in extra support and programming in order to assist youth with really practical things that will help them leave homelessness,” Kammerer said.

Gutter Punk Coffee is unique in its approach to teen homelessness. They nurture their employees through hard work, grit, and perseverance. They ensure that they have all the necessities they need in order to focus on the task at hand.

Gutter Punk Coffee
Gutter Punk Coffee stand at Sunny Side Gardens greenhouse.

We offer a 9-month employment and independent living skills program. So, we do hands-on training while youth are working with us to teach tangible employment skills. We also do Independent Living Skills groups as part of our curriculum. Community members help teach skills such as money management, cooking, safe relationships, and goal planning. Our goal is for youth to leave our program with the employment and life skills they need to maintain stable and independent housing,” Kammerer said.

The mobile coffee cart, which travels to a multitude of farmers markets in the Twin Cities, including Northeast Winter Farmers’ Market until this March, was founded in 2017. The farmers’ markets are usually the third Sunday of every month. The next location the coffee cart will be is in the Linden Hills Farmers Market starting in May.

A huge goal of ours is to get youth into a space where they can think beyond survival and envision what they’d like for their future. We have intentionally built-in extra support and programming in order to assist youth with really practical things that will help them leave homelessness.”

— Carley Kammerer

If you cannot make it to the farmer’s market, you can order their coffee online along with a variety of other merchandise such as apparel, mugs, and subscriptions to weekly, biweekly, or monthly coffee. A 12-ounce bag of coffee starts at 13 dollars. Kammerer discovered her passion for the coffee industry once she realized coffee’s ability to bring people together and at the same time, she saw firsthand the hardships that homeless teens go through, according to the website.

After interning at a similar business in Denver, Kammerer knew she wanted to make a difference closer to home. Griswold has always had a keen interest in social entrepreneurship and making the community closely knit. He majored in finance and hopes to continue working in sustainability in business. The business partners felt strongly about their mission to fight homelessness using their skills and passions. Kammerer and Griswold hope to inspire their employees to follow their own dreams.

 

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About the Writer
Meagan Massie, Feature Editor

Junior Meagan Massie is excited to be the feature co-editor on the 2018-19 Rubicon Print. This is her second year on staff, the first being a staff writer....

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