Wildflyer Coffee relocated into the former Peace Coffee space at 3262 Minnehaha in December 2020. Wildflyer is not just your neighborhood coffee shop, but is also an employment training program that hires youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability between the ages of 16 and 24.
As a nonprofit organization, Wildflyer is funded by shop income (60 percent) and through donors (40 percent).Their unique employment program provides the critical skills the youth will need to succeed in both the workforce and life. When you stop in for that cup of coffee or tea, the employees ringing you out are part of the six-month work and life skills training program.
“Wildflyer has helped with consistency. My life will flare up and it’s hard to keep a job, so it’s been helpful having people here who recognize it’s not easy living like this, and it’s not easy to be flexible when you’re living like this,” a program participant said. The people behind Wildflyer recognize that youth homelessness is a complex issue. They provide non-work related support including housing referrals, counseling, educational pathways, connections to post-program employment, transportation assistance and basic needs supplies.
“You never really know how expensive life is until you live on your own. I had jobs and I’ve made enough to make ends meet, but not enough to take care of myself. I’ve been able to get dish soap and food and laundry detergent, but have not made enough for self-care like hair products or clothing or even a gym membership,” a youth barista said. “And now that I have a job at Wildflyer, I’ll be able to afford those things. And that’s what I really appreciate and am excited about. Not to mention, I love my job. This is the most comfortable and most happy I’ve been at a job, and even in life.”
They make great coffee, but Wildflyer’s mission to provide meaningful employment, job skills, and resources that our youth need to end the cycle of homelessness is what really sets them apart from other coffee shops. As is true for many of our businesses that started during the pandemic, it has been a roller coaster of a ride. They’ve found their footing and are now ready to celebrate with the community!