Stepping Stones to Self Sufficiency: The Women's Bean Project

November 17, 2015

 

This November, The Dime is taking on the theme of giving back. We have dedicated a portion of our posts, including our weekly Dime Roll, to introducing volunteering opportunities all over the state and other ways for everyone to lend a hand or give back to the community

Here at the Dime, we like to give you the tools to help yourself and those around you—which is why we are doing a series on Colorado services that might benefit someone you know.

The spotlight today is on the Women’s Bean Project, a Denver-based nonprofit organization working to empower impoverished and chronically unemployed women by providing them the opportunity to learn job readiness and life skills.

The concept behind the Women’s Bean Project is simple: take a group of women from the hardest walks of life and provide them with the tools to improve their lives and therefore the lives of their families.

Each year’s program runs for nine months and has two basic components—work readiness and life skills training. The women work manufacturing handmade jewelry and gourmet food (which this author has sampled, and it is delicious). Through learning to work by working, the women acquire basic job proficiencies like daily attendance, punctuality, and the necessary social skills to be successful in a work environment. At the same time, the women are also in classes that teach life skills such as budgeting and nutrition, and job skills such as building a resume and interviewing.

The results of this program are a resounding success. Women with felony and drug records who have never held a long-term job are building careers after graduation. Impressively, the class of 2014 was 100% employed at graduation, and all still held those jobs one year later. The class of 2015 was also 100% employed at graduation.

All of those women—and their children, grandchildren, partners, parents, siblings, cousins—are being positively impacted by the work of the Women’s Bean Project. The graduates of the program are providing a more stable life for those around them. Imagine the impact of a woman who has worked hard to turn her life in a positive direction, and the possibilities are amazing.

Luanne Hill, the Development Associate for the Women’s Bean Project, also touts the benefits that the community receives. For every $1 spent by the Women’s Bean Project, taxpayers save $1.31, which reduces the burden on government and philanthropy to pay for assistance programs.

The program is competitive—just 1 out of 5 applicants are accepted into each class of 30 to 45 women—but if you know someone who would benefit from the services, pass the word along. It may just change her entire life.

As a side note, this article would not be complete without a mention that all the products made by the women are available to purchase at their retail store at 3201 Curtis Street, Denver, CO (a former firehouse that has been fabulously repurposed for this use) or on their website.

Also, you can pre schedule a donation to the Bean Project for Colorado Gives Day, December 8, 2015 by clicking here.

This post was written by Megan Westberg, an attorney with Colorado PERA. If you’d like to submit a guest post, email us at dimecontact@copera.org.