Our youth programs build toward the future

June 3, 2019

Poverty is a complicated issue and when you add the complex needs of youth and young adults into the mix, you need the right expertise to be effective. FareStart’s team of dedicated professionals are specialists in working with youth and young adults, and we partner with organizations like YouthCare and the Seattle Public School’s Interagency Academy and Nova High School in our youth programs as well.

Tamera, our youth programs manager, shared her insights on how we continue to push our youth programs forward. She has a background in direct service, case management and social work and has jumped into the position with both feet.

“I oversee both the Youth and Young Adult Barista Program and the Youth Culinary Program,” she said. “I bring a point of view to these programs that focuses on figuring out where we could improve and looking at the culture we create in these programs.”

The Youth and Young Adult Barista Program is an eight-week program for people aged 16 – 24 who are facing challenges like housing instability, lack of job readiness and poverty. The program isn’t just about teaching people how to make lattes.

“This is about getting people ready to be successful at work,” Tamera said. “It’s about long-term success.  We focus on soft skills too while we meet their immediate need of getting off the streets. This program isn’t a stopping point, it is about getting them back into the workforce and opening their eyes to what they could be.”

The program teaches culinary and barista skills working with real customers at our Café @ 2100. There, the students interact with customers and work alongside staff and trainers all while getting support from YouthCare. Field trips to businesses such as Caffé Vita and Starbucks also give students a chance to see what type of opportunities there are for them in more than just a barista capacity.

“The students know why they are here,” Tamera said. “Some of them are making money for their families, supporting their families or trying to get funds for college or advancement. We are always looking at the culture we create and how we can always improve for our students. There are a lot of outside factors for these young people and we have to adapt to that.”

The Youth Culinary Program teaches culinary skills to youth in an eight-week program open to people 16 – 21. The program also gives school credit to the students and some credit the program with giving them the motivation to stay in school.

“In training, because this is a younger group, we have to give them a sense of urgency,” Tamera said. “We really focus on having them complete tasks while pushing for that urgency. We work with the school staff person closely in collaboration to help the students get the most that they can out of this program.”

Both programs have graduation ceremonies that are unique to their cultures, but they both bring focus on the success of the students as they move forward.

“Graduation is such a moment of community,” she said. “These young people have found a community and learned something about themselves. They always say it at the graduations – that they feel these programs gave them something about themselves. It is always emotional and very rewarding.”