In 2021, the United States Congress allocated certain funds to communities across the United States through the American Rescue Plan Act to help build back communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Mahoning County. With the funds allocated to Mahoning County, many programs aimed at enhancing our county have been able to apply with the Mahoning County Commissioners to receive some of these funds.
The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office has been an integral part in helping ensure that specific legal requirements and benchmarks are met before any of these funds are allocated to any of the programs.
Each month, we will feature one of these fantastic programs and how they are assisting in making Mahoning County a better place. This month, we are featuring Café Augustine.
Since its establishment in 2015, the café has been a home for youth from Mahoning County who are aging out of foster care and who are looking for financial footing as they move forward into adulthood. To further this mission, the café is staffed by volunteers and paid employees from various backgrounds where financial hardships are the norm.
This year, the Commissioners, with assistance from the Prosecutor’s Office, put the café under the microscope and agreed that the Saint Augustine Society was qualified to receive $50,000 under the American Rescue Plan Act to establish a program that teaches troubled youth both business and life skills that will help set them up for future success and employment. Through the education and accomplishments of these young men and women, they are set to become beacons of hope and growth within an area stricken with poverty and crime.
Café Augustine also boasts several resources for students entering the program, including a business curriculum that opens up opportunities for gainful employment. Within this curriculum, several vital lessons are taught that include responsibilities in personal finance, setting financial and life goals, effective communication, personal reliability, and many others.
Throughout the program, students take the daily inventory, prepare shopping lists, go to the store to get the necessary items needed for the café, and safely store the products when they return. All students must also take an online food safety course to learn the proper handling and storing of food before working in the kitchen.
Some graduates of the café’s program are now in managerial roles, both in the café itself and out in other parts of the community. Students must now learn how to balance the responsibilities that come with leadership in their new roles. Through this continued learning, Café Augustine’s program graduates are working to make Mahoning County a better place!
Café Augustine is just one of the many businesses making a difference in Mahoning County. Check out next month’s edition of the Justice Journal to see what other organizations are helping to strengthen our communities!