Philly Coffee Shop Helps Former Foster Kids

A Philadelphia coffee shop is serving the community with more than just a cup of joe.  The Monkey and the Elephant Café, located in the city's Kensington neighborhood, hires former foster children as baristas, teaching them finance and computer literacy during an eight month program.

“I just had a light bulb moment sitting in a coffee shop, and thought I should open my own coffee shop and work with former foster kids,” said Lisa Miccolis, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit and coffee shop, which is open from 9am to 4pm at 1227 N. 4th St.

Along with collecting an hourly wage, employees -- like 22-year-old Tyrone Morrison and 19-year-old Naje Taylor -- receive help with college applications and lessons in how to run a business.

Morrison said he hopes to attend school to become a college counselor, while Taylor is interested in a career in the music industry.

“I love to make music," said Taylor, who added he was surprised at how much he loves making coffee for customers. "People here listen to music every day and I get to be around so many different sounds."

Miccolis, who visited orphanages during several trips abroad, was inspired to start the philanthropic endeavor after learning the children stopped receiving financial support once they turned 18.

“I realized I could do something about that," said Miccolis, who describes coffee shops as a great place for the former foster kids to network.

“There’s a large aspect of community that inherently exists in cafes," she said. "I realized [it] could be leveraged as a support system"

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