National Coalition for the Homeless Study– 70.4% of Homeless Individuals Feel Discriminated Against
The smell of fresh vanilla and cold-brew coffee wafts across the church. Sunlight illuminates rows of wooden pews as Connor and Tony set up small chairs and tables for the day's event. Placing a sales script and training guide on each of the seats they see, Erica, one of Breaktime's newest employee, enter the room. She’s anxious to meet her new employers, but thrilled for the opportunity. The Breaktime team was embarking on its first session of performing direct sales calls for a local, cold-brew company. This was a new idea to our team, but it was a direct way to get our employees paid by local businesses and equip them with the skills necessary to seek further employment.
We are Breaktime. This is our story.
We are an organization set up to employ the people most discriminated against by society. Breaktime was founded by Connor Schoen and Tony Shu– two Harvard undergrads with a passion for helping their community. Our mission is to fill gaps in the workforce. The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) reported that a whopping 70.4% of homeless individuals felt discriminated against simply because of their housing status. Individuals with vocational training who use their homeless shelter as a “home” address are screened out of application pools across the country. Young adults the same age as our founders are forced to leave their homes at 18 because of a variety of unfortunate circumstances including their sexual identity or even domestic abuse.
When working at a youth-to-youth homeless shelter as well as with Bridge over Troubled Waters, Connor and Tony met with these young adults and heard their stories. Echoing NCH’s study, they too found that the most discrimination came from private businesses and law enforcement. Which is why, when they pitched their unique idea to Harvard’s Innovation Challenge, they were awarded a Mckinley Social Grant Silver Medal and $5,000 to put into action their vision for a brick and mortar cafe employing homeless youth.
That was in March of 2018, since then we’ve grown considerably. We’ve successfully employed three housing insecure individuals and even placed one in a part-time job allowing her to finally apply for and receive housing. We’ve launched catering services, sales support, and started on training programs all the while working towards opening our first cafe right here in Boston. We’ve built up more than a thousand followers over the course of a year that we hope to leverage into career mentors and an actionable network for our employees. We’re excited for what the future holds and we’ll never stop working towards filling that employment gap with talented and overlooked individuals. Thank you for supporting us and let's continue to break the cycle of homelessness, together.