Filed under: Get Activist
Armed with $500 worth of beans, two women founded a non-profit group in Denver in 1989 to empower impoverished women by teaching them workplace skills and providing jobs to the chronically homeless and unemployed. Their training opportunities have expanded dramatically over the years, and their annual operating budget has grown from $6,100 to over $1.5 million.
The Women’s Bean Project is a nonprofit organization that teaches job readiness and life skills for entry-level jobs through employment in a gourmet food production business. Women come with the goal of transforming their lives and moving toward self sufficiency.
SPENCER MICHELS: Now in its 20th year, the program employs 40 women each year who have been chronically unemployed and living in poverty. They make and package products such as soup, brownie mix, jelly beans, and salsas that are available in grocery stores in 40 states and over the Internet. But it’s not the food that makes this program a complete package, says executive director Tamara Ryan.
TAMARA RYAN: We’re not trying to make the best bean soup makers of America. What we’re trying to do is create an environment where we can teach basic job readiness skills, the idea that you have to come to work every day, and on time, and manage conflict in the workplace, and dress appropriately, and take direction.
But then also we find that that alone isn’t what helps women become successful. They’re lacking basic life skills — problem-solving, goal-setting, the ability to, when your child care falls apart, to fix that and then continue to go to work.
There’s a transcript and a streaming video micro documentary from Spencer Michels from PBS here.
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