We have two goals: empower marginalized D.C. residents and provide the highest quality coffee in D.C. We employ people with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness, at risk youth, and those exiting the criminal justice system. We pay livable wages and provide workforce development to our employees. Our workforce helps us deliver high quality product, which we sell through retail and wholesale distribution.
Melvin doesn’t actually like coffee; he likes hot chocolate. But he supports Building With Beans’ mission because he’s committed to helping others who, like him, face significant barriers to success. Born in D.C., Melvin moved to El Salvador at a young age. For comparison sake, Melvin grew up in poverty in El Salvador, a country where citizens earn 86% less than the average American. If that wasn’t enough, during his teenage years, with essentially no experience engaging in the English language, Melvin was uprooted again, this time back to his place of birth – D.C. Imagine: born into poverty, moving to a foreign country, then returning to your “home town” without knowing the dominant language. As expected, Melvin fell through the cracks. Was it his fault? That’s a difficult question to answer; his ambition, though, is easy to see. His ambition is telling of the person he is on the inside – one, when provided structural support, is capable of GREAT things. Melvin now wants to be a computer technician. If D.C. has his back, he’s going to get there. He’s going to learn the skills.
Charlie doesn’t blame the D.C. law – Title 16 – that placed him in an adult penitentiary as a juvenile. He knows his own actions are what led to this fate. But it’s hard to ignore the hand Charlie was dealt. Raised with nothing in D.C.’s Congress Heights neighborhood, he didn’t have many options. Education? Not critical to survival and in any case not really available beyond high school. Well-paying (legal) job opportunities? Nope. Guidance – from whom? Poverty had its impact. But, again, Charlie doesn’t place blame. Upon returning from incarceration, something too many of our community members are forced to do, he’s turn his life around, embracing a passion for poetry and love for his two children to pursue a prosperity he has never before known. Charlie endorses Building With Beans, because he believes, as we do, that every human deserves a real chance to meet their full potential. Every person deserves the chance to be a #leader. Charlie, we at BWB stand with you. You are a leader.
Our buddy Will is an inspiring guy, but that wasn’t always the case. Raised in D.C., Will grew up without mentors and the resources needed to avoid the pitfalls of poverty. As a result, it wasn’t long before he moved from his Brightwood neighborhood to D.C.’s burgeoning prison system, where he spent the better part of a decade. At the age of 26, and after his third stint in prison, Will was determined to change his life course. He caught a break when Chipotle offered him the chance to wash dishes, a position he quickly turned into a management position. Will’s life is much different now, something he attributes to economic opportunity that wasn’t available to him as a youth. As the founder of the D.C. small business Clean Decisions, Will has dedicated his life to assisting District residents facing similar barriers. Will knows the power of a J.O.B., and that why he supports Building With Beans. Together, Will and Building With Beans are providing jobs, training, and mentorship opportunities to make D.C. a more inclusive community.