Wildflyer Coffee expands to St. Paul
Wildflyer Coffee East opens in St. Paul on March 11, expanding a Minneapolis specialty coffee brand and providing more job opportunities for youths experiencing homelessness.
What's happening: Wildflyer is a social enterprise coffee shop that can employ up to 60 Twin Cities youths ages 16-24 who are experiencing homelessness. The shop offers a livable wage, stable employment and life skills training.
- The nonprofit started as a coffee cart and opened a south Minneapolis stand-alone location in 2020; it crowdfunded more than $25,000 to open the St. Paul shop.
Why it matters: Homeless youths, defined by state law as people 24 and younger, can struggle to secure adequate employment that would help them obtain many important resources — like food, clothing and housing.
- Since the Wildflyer Work Experience program began in 2017, 80% of its graduates are employed or enrolled in education and 80% are stably housed at their three-month check-ins, according to Wildflyer.
State of play: Participants work 20 hours a week at one of the coffee shops and receive financial literacy training, mental health workshops and other services to prepare them for life beyond the program.
- It runs for four months, but graduates work with employment counselors for up to a year; they're also eligible to be rehired as shift leads.
What she's saying: Programs like Wildflyer's are sometimes referred to as "second chances." But that can imply those experiencing homelessness did something wrong, executive director and co-founder Carley Kammerer said.
- "They just started in an unfortunate position because of 1,000 different reasons. I see us as making an opportunity for them that they should have had all along," she told Axios.
Details: The St. Paul location has a full espresso bar, non caffeinated drinks and a food menu. It will also host community services, like walk-in counseling and substance use disorder services.
📍 Visit: 1362 Seventh St. W., St. Paul. Open 8am-2pm, with a ribbon-cutting March 11 at 10am.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show the new Wildflyer coffee location is in St. Paul, but not downtown.
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