Selling yogurt is the social enterprise tool we use here at the YIPPIE Foundation. YIPPIE Foundation helps foster-care and low-income youth reach their potential as caring, contributing citizens through career development, mentoring, job training and work experience.
Our nine month program starts at the beginning, giving youth three months of weekly training in basic job readiness skills, and then we put them into paid internships in our nonprofit’s new Yippie Yogurt® Training Center--a real self-serve yogurt shop! In the Yippie Yogurt shop they "earn while they learn", on-the-job for 6 months. While they’re with us, they also get one-on-one mentoring from adult volunteers and tour local businesses so they can see success at work right in their own communities.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No. That’s why we’re asking for your assistance for our social enterprise. With additional financial support to build infrastructure and get us through an initial ramp-up, we project being 75% self-sustaining by August of 2014 and 100% by August 2015.
We believe in "teaching kids to fish." These kids don't need a hand-out; they need a hand-up.
We work with a challenging group: at-risk foster care, poverty-level and economically marginalized youth, ages 16 to 24. We will move mountains for them, but they have to bring a shovel, too. Our screening program for candidates is rigorous, requiring a written application, personal interviews, and the buy-in from a parent or guardian. We have a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy so they have to be clean and remain clean while they’re with us. They also have to stay in school while maintaining a solid grade average. Our first “Yippie Academy,” encompassing both classes and mentoring, began in September, 2011 and the Yippie Yogurt Youth Job Training Center opened in 2012. All participants remain in school during the program, and there is a marked decrease in their risky behaviors as they strive to succeed in the Yippie program.
We have seen miracles happen.
Christian, Veronica and Miranda were recently hired at The Jelly Belly Factory; Ashley at Costco; Christine at McDonald’s and Lizabeth at The Home Depot (at $10.25 an hour!) and more. These results are huge as these at-risk youth have very difficult lives.
“Joey” was removed from his home by CPS, along with his 3 brothers and sisters, and all have lived with his infirmed grandmother for the past ten years. Yet, he is a shining star in the Yippie Program! “Diana’s” mother and sister are in jail for life and her father is an active gang member. She “couch surfs” and is therefore technically “homeless”. “James’” abusive drunk father permanently injured his mother and now he must take care of her and his dying grandmother. “Dionne” is a single mother with two small children who is courageously attending Solano College while excelling in the Yippie program.
But when they complete our Yippie program, all have new skills, greater hope and a newfound belief in their own abilities; with that, they raise both their confidence and their employability.
We’ve completely funded the Foundation’s start-up out of fundraising, our own pockets and volunteer sweat equity…and happily so. We are debt-free and building a robust customer base. But the shop is still in its first year and unable to support the entire programming at this point.
YIPPIE Academy has proven itself successful, and now we know we can help get more youth out of the cycle of generational poverty through our program. But we are in need of an Executive Director and short-term operating funds to get us to self-sufficiency. Our young people need a hand-up, not a hand-out, and right now so do we.
Kindly consider partnering with the YIPPIE Foundation and providing additional opportunities for additional at-risk youth to participate in this much-needed and unique job training program. Your support will allow our nonprofit to reach self-sufficiency, to train more youth, and to turn the brutal fact of generational poverty into a distant memory.
www.YippieFoundation.org and www.YippieYogurt.org
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
do 3 things: 1) add infrastructure with an Executive Director and basic staff. 2) add hundreds of Yippie Yogurt Youth Job Training Centers all around the US - wherever there are low-income and foster care youth feeling hopeless and despairing. Our program is long enough and comprehensive enough to provide both real soft and hard marketable skills; 3) establish collaborations with employers all over the country.
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