"Third Lutheran sacrament" provides help for young people
South Minneapolis “Urban Ventures” partners with Third World workers
For some Lutherans, a good cup of coffee is almost as much a part of their Sunday morning as attending worship services. Since many churches cater to that desire for coffee, they are marketing targets of a self-help program for south Minneapolis youth called CityKid Java.
Several Lutheran congregations have already had presentations on the benefits of the coffee venture: a good cup of coffee and knowing that 100% of the profits go to services for kids in south Minneapolis and Nicaragua.
In addition to being a supplier for church coffee hours, CityKid Java offers the opportunity for Lutheran youth groups to sell competitively-priced, bagged coffee beans to church members and friends. That can yield a $3-per-bag profit to help support church youth projects, including mission trips.
Over the summer months the coffee program will also provide some paying jobs for inner-city kids from the Central and Phillips neighborhoods of Minneapolis, raising awareness of CityKid Java at various metro-area community festivals, says Mark-Peter Lundquist, program director for Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation.
The 10-year-old Minne-apolis organization saw an opportunity to help coffee growers in Nicaragua get fair-market prices for their labors and, at the same time, help get some Urban Venture youth programs in south Minneapolis on the road to being self-supporting. The coffee also became an avenue for teaching city kids marketable skills, according to Lundquist.
An ordained clergyman in the United Methodist Church, Lundquist has a passion for ministry — and for good coffee. He tells how he became a quality expert. “I was a team leader for three years at the nation’s first Caribou Coffee outlet on 44th and France,” he said. “So, I knew where the best was grown and roasted. This [CityKid Java] is great coffee for a great cause.”
The coffee is finding its way into churches and businesses around the area. Lundquist noted that Valspar Corporation now serves CityKid Java at 18 coffee stations for 500 employees at its Minneapolis facility. He observed that churches serve a lot of coffee, too.
CityKid Java is just one program at Urban Ventures. Its Youth Leadership program includes the Urban Stars athletic club, teaching life skills and developing leaders through sports. The Learning Lab features technology-based education and tutoring. The People’s Exchange helps people connect with one another and meets basic human needs (including food, clothing and furniture). The Center for Father-ing gives dads the skills to become effective parents.
Urban Ventures also has a work opportunities program, including business development (recruiting, starting and expanding neighborhood businesses). And, the Kitchen of Oppor-tunities provides training for individuals for food service jobs while feeding people in need.
The Center for Fathering is a key commitment for Urban Ventures. Studies in-dicate that fatherless homes produce 85% of all prisoners, 82% of pregnant teens and 78% of high school dropouts. The Center for Fathering set out to address that stark reality.
In the near future, Urban Ventures, along with four partners, plans to break ground for a new facility. The Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center will occupy a full city block at Lake Street and 4th Avenue in south Minneapolis. Sharing the facility will be Urban Young Life, Youth Frontiers, Kids Café and the Air National Guard (with a recruiting facility and job training). Lundquist said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has authorized only three centers across the country to use his name.
From its headquarters in a former potato chip factory, Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation has renovated seven abandoned buildings, leveled two crack houses and built relationships through programs that empower children and families. Its stated goal is “producing kids so committed to Christ that they can survive in any environment.”
Individual orders for CityKid Java may be placed via the Internet at www.citykidjava.com, with an e-mail to john@citykidjava or by calling 612-638-1002. Additional information about Urban Ventures programs is available by calling 612-822-1628 or at the Web site www.urbanventures.org.