With the opening of Ms. Bonnie’s Cup of Hope, our on-campus coffee shop, our students are learning small business strategies, financial literacy, valuable work habits and gaining hands-on customer service experience. These are all great skills for our young people as they prepare for a successful work life. Another area they seem to really be enjoying is the marketing aspect of the business venture, creating their own unique drinks, coming up with promotions and offering weekly specials to the Cunningham staff, their customers.
As part of the marketing efforts, the students, their staff, Director of Advancement Ginger Mills and Communications and Marketing Specialist Tina Dechausay have monthly planning meetings where they determine the next month’s specials. Tina helps by putting together a flyer with the month’s specials, but the students create the artwork for the "weekly special" email that is sent out to the entire agency each Monday. Guess you could say our youth are marketing for hope.
"I’ve learned that marketing is really important but hard," 17-year-old Kiera* said. "We don’t always know if we are going to have slow days or rush days. Marketing helps us balance that and brings more people in to Cup of Hope."
The specialty drink Kiera created is called the "Double OK!" It’s a cold brew consisting of white chocolate, vanilla and caramel foam with a caramel drizzle. Sounds delicious! As part of her marketing efforts, she created a video encouraging staff to buy it.
"The creativity of our youth has always amazed me," Tina said. "They’ve always done beautiful work in art class and with special therapies projects but the way they’ve stepped up with the Cup of Hope marketing has been really impressive."
In addition to the weekly specials is a punch card in which once the cardholder has purchased 10 drinKs, the next one is FREE! The Cup of Hope truly has the look, feel and operations of a real coffee shop and Cunningham youth are learning a lot.
"The kids caught on to the machines and making the drinks very quickly," Renee, a Vocational Coordinator who oversees the project, said. "Since then, where I’ve seen the most growth in is their customer service skills. Because they know many of the staff on campus, our students have had to learn to treat them as customers and not just someone they know. The students are learning that there is an expectation for how to relate to people when you are at work. You must provide the same good customer service to everyone who comes in to buy their morning cup of coffee."
Renee shared that she has seen huge growth in their confidence and poise. While they used to get a little weary when there was a rush of customers, now, they look forward to it. Mason’s* favorite part of working at Cup of Hope is making the coffee and working with the toast point-of-sale system but for Kiera, it’s much simpler.
"The best part is just seeing people smile," she said.
Your contributions will help us light hundreds of luminaries, representing the 846 youth and families we served this year and as well as many others special to members of our community. PURCHASE LUMINARIES HERE!
Then, on December 8 and 9, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., you can drive through our campus at 1301 N. Cunningham Avenue in Urbana and enjoy this beautiful holiday event (suggested $5 donation per car).