Social enterprises and entrepreneurial programs strengthen and revitalize communities by creating jobs, instilling youth with valuable skills, and encouraging community growth.
Here are a handful to check out while you’re crossing off your holiday list.
Coffee Hip Hop And Mental Health in Bronzeville was created by Chicago-born,Christian hip-hop artist Christopher LeMark. Stemming from his own experiences with PTSD and childhood trauma, Christopher launched the organization to normalize therapy in Black and Brown communities. What started as a pop-up coffee shop quickly evolved. When the pandemic began, CHHMH pivoted to serve community needs by delivering door-to-door grocery distributions. From June 13 to October 31 of this year, the business has gifted 5,597 families groceries. Presently, you can support CHHMH’s newest effort by heading to the Lakeview pop-up store for a delicious coffee drink. All shop proceeds will go toward fulfilling the wish lists of 500 Chicago families in need by Christmas Eve.
3243 N. Broadway, Chicago | Visit their website | @coffeehiphopandmentalhealth
Check out Arise Creations, a program by our community partner New Life Centers, that has empowered young girls in the Humboldt Park neighborhood since 2009. Middle-school and high-school girls who enter the program learn business skills by creating and selling handmade pieces of jewelry. This program sets them on a path toward entrepreneurship at a young age and encourages them to be agents of change within their communities.
Visit their website | @arisecreations
Blackstone Bicycle Works, a community bike shop doubling as an educational and vocational program on Chicago’s South Side, offers more than 150 youth from underserved neighborhoods the opportunity to build entrepreneurial skills by working in a full-service bicycle shop. The youth program utilizes and teaches bicycle advocacy, mechanic skills, cycling and business operations. You can take your bicycle in for quality, affordable repairs and tune-up services, or make a purchase of helmets, bikes and more from their online store. All profits from sales and services support the BBW youth program.
Shop | @blackstonebikes
Bright Endeavors’ long-burning, plant-based soy candles make the perfect gift for a friend or relative this holiday season. Bright Endeavors, an innovative social enterprise created by United Way’s partner New Moms, is a holistic job training and professional skill development program for young mothers in Chicago. Young moms gain critical, paid work experience and all revenue from the sales of their hand-crafted candles. Since 2010, 512 moms have been employed at Bright Endeavors while working toward their goals of economic stability and mobility. 100% of proceeds support their mission to empower young moms, their kids, and our communities.
Shop | @bright_endeavors
Stop in The Kusanya Cafe in Englewood to purchase some high-quality coffee for a good cause. Phil Sipka founded the nonprofit cafe in 2013, naming it Kusanya, the Swahili word for “to gather” or “to come together.” The cooperative is run entirely by Englewood residents and its primary mission is to provide a space where community members can gather, breaking the stigma of Englewood being a neighborhood that lacks gathering spaces, or businesses covered by plexiglass and barred windows. They also roast the coffee in Englewood! And this spot isn’t just a coffee shop. At the Kusanya Cafe, you can read a book from the lending library, enjoy the rotating artwork of local artists, or grab a bite to eat.
825 W 69th St, Chicago | (773) 675-4758 | kusanyacafe.org
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat: 7am-7pm.