The mission of Hart Community Homes is to heal, educate, and empower at-risk youth to become healthy, productive, and self-sufficient adults in the community.
Description of how the funds will be used:
Construction has already begun on the overdue restaurant remodel, and the project has been broken out into phases. As funding is secured, the café moves to the next phase. The next phase will include (1) adding electrical capacity to the restaurant (which will support the addition of outdoor lighting and increased electrical demand); (2) Outdoor lighting, expanding dinner service; and (3) a walk-in refrigerator.
Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address:
Monkey Business is a café and catering operation that employs youth who are transitioning from Hart Community Homes, Orangewood and Olive Crest, as well as from the CA Conservation Youth Corps and other similar programs. Offering employment to other foster homes and youth employment services is part of what makes this a community program that goes beyond Hart Homes. In 2015, 75 kids will be employed and trained by the Café and Farm, which includes both restaurant and farm rotations. The program lasts 6 months for most, but teens in Hart Homes may work part-time at the age of 16 and stay for 2 full years. While support continues for most program graduates in finding full time work or college acceptance, some graduates of the program may be employed as mentors/supervisors on-site. Program participants work 20-30 hours per week based on their school status, and they receive ongoing counseling and job skills training. Eighty percent of participants exit the program fully employed or enrolled in post-secondary education versus the 51% of foster youth who are unemployed after emancipation.
Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards:
High Impact, Direct Benefit, Education, Sustainability, Community Building, Innovative, Measurable: High Impact/ Direct Benefit: The café program provides foster youth with the opportunity to develop skills and relationships while earning money – a transformative experience with regard to self-confidence as well as concrete, practical skills. The kitchen remodel will increase both restaurant volume and expand the catering business, which means more jobs for more foster youth. The program’s high success rates support the Harts’ belief that once you have a paycheck, other things fall into place. Education: In addition to teaching workplace skills, the program supports students in completing their high school diplomas and assists them in applying to college or post-secondary programs. Collaborations with Fullerton College and CSU Fullerton enable participants to approach the post-secondary environment with familiarity and comfort. Sustainability: All revenues are reinvested in the program to pay the wages of participants and staff. Graduated participants serve as mentors and leaders. This program was Orange County’s 2014 Social Enterprise of the Year. Community Building: The collaborative service model of the Café ensures that participants gain knowledge of agriculture and foodsheds through partnerships with U-ACRE, CSUF, and Fullerton College. Community leaders and members eat at the café, and understand that their dollars are serving double duty when spent on a meal at the Monkey Business Café. The Café also supports other community homes and like-minded organizations. Innovative: This workforce development program is unique in Orange County. Participants are able to make connections between meals served in the café and their origins in local agriculture and farming, enabling participants to understand value chains and environmental stewardship. Finally, the ability to work outdoors in this nurturing setting is a healing experience for children who were themselves critically under-nurtured throughout their early years. Measurability: Progress to kitchen renovation is measurable in comparison with project plans. Progress to larger impact is measurable in terms of increased service hours and therefore number of program participants that can be budgeted and afforded.