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Just outside the gates of Harvard University is a relatively large population of youth and young adults (aged 16-24) experiencing homelessness. While there is great work being done to provide them with shelter, this population still lacks crucial support. Namely, many of them are looking for work, but face obstacles in terms of job access, experience, and flexibility. As students and community members, we have the chance and responsibility to ensure that these young people have a better shot at meaningful employment and stable, happy lives.
Breaktime is a social enterprise created by Harvard students that is opening a cafe near Harvard University to provide stable employment, vocational training, and career-based education to young adults experiencing homelessness.
According to a survey conducted by the National Coalition for the Homeless, 70.4% of homeless respondents reported being discriminated against by private companies simply based on housing status. We aim to bring compassion and ethics back into the food industry and believe that running a successful business and maintaining a social mission can go hand-in-hand.
We do this by operating efficiently, easily, and with lower fixed costs. By working with local wholesale food providers, like Union Square Donuts, we can expand their brand and business while reducing the amount of equipment we need in our cafe. This way, we can focus on developing the best employment and training program for employees. By partnering with local shelters, non-profits, and school organizations, we can ensure that our employees learn relevant and comprehensive job skills, receive useful certifications, build interpersonal skills, and gain confidence. Finally, each employee will be paired with a one-on-one mentor who can provide guidance and support for next steps in our employees’ careers/lives.
There is also potential to employ people experiencing homelessness who have already gone through vocational training or certification programs through another organization - making Breaktime a second step employer that will continue to also facilitate necessary support and programming. In addition to young adults experiencing homelessness, we will also employ local students. This will ensure that we can fulfill our goal of fully reintegrating young adults experiencing homelessness into society and reduce the unjust stigma around homelessness. Homelessness is not an inherent reflection of character, ability, or worth. These young adults deserve a chance and need people to believe in them.
We are raising money to cover some of the buildout costs for our first store that is opening near Harvard. Buildout will be efficient and will include items like the serving counter, racks, sink and plumbing, and point of sales systems. With your financial support, we could be up and running with all of this by September 2018.
Thank you so much for your generosity, and we’re excited to have you join us in our mission to end the cycle of homelessness! Follow our journey on this website as well as Instagram (@breaktimeboston), Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Meet the Founders: