Monday, September 15, 2014

Vote to Give-it-Away to Women's Bean Project

Women’s Bean Project was one of three nonprofit organizations chosen in the Americas for a chance to win a $25,000 grant from J.P. Morgan and we need your support by voting for us! The “Give-it-Away” campaign runs from September 15, 2014 through November 15, 2014. Cast your vote today. Only one vote per valid email address.

Women’s Bean Project is a nationally-recognized social enterprise that has created transitional employment in gourmet food and jewelry manufacturing for chronically unemployed and impoverished women for 25 years. Our business is designed to provide immediate income, arrange support services to overcome barriers to employment, and teach the job readiness and life skills needed to find and keep employment. Women’s Bean Project strives to break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty by helping women learn to work by working. Women earn a steady paycheck, while developing the work and life skills needed to function independently and effectively in the workplace and community. 

Weekly classes on topics such as goal setting, budgeting, financial literacy, nutrition and empowerment promote growth in self-confidence, self-worth and responsibility. As well as, classes such as computer training, mock interviews and job search techniques impart crucial tools needed for employment. Through daily hands-on work in our food production and jewelry-making businesses, women gain the skills such as attendance, teamwork, positive attitude, conflict resolution and problem-solving that employers say they are not getting in entry-level applicants.

Our community is enriched when we reduce chronic unemployment and dependence on assistance, and equip women to lead productive, self-sufficient lives.

Women’s Bean Project has served more than 700 women by providing stepping stones to career entry-level employment, self-worth and self-sufficiency. We’ve employed more women than ever before and improved our outcomes consistently—to a 77% graduation rate and 100% job placement rate.

And yet, our work is not done. There continue to be hundreds of women in our community whose lives would be transformed if we were able to hire them. There are children whose futures could be re-written if their mothers had the skills to get and keep employment. We believe after 25 years we have proven the model of running a business with tremendous social benefit and we are determined to do a better job of addressing the needs of marginalized women in our community.

A $25,000 grant from J. P. Morgan “Give-it-Away” campaign will help support operations and allow us to invest in our organization in significant ways.

For instance:
  • We will invest in our jewelry-making business. This business needs a product line manager to help it grow and thrive. To date we have employed 30 additional women in this business with relatively modest sales. Growing this business by hiring a hands-on, full-time point person and investing in sales and marketing of the products will allow us to hire additional women.
  • Develop a piecework and fulfillment business for other companies, again, giving us the ability to hire more women.
  • Build a framework for expansion.
  • Heighten our capabilities and efficiencies through technology and capital investments.
After 25 years of operating a business with a social mission we find ourselves in the fortunate position of receiving national recognition for proving a viable model for transitional employment. We feel the time is now to increase our impact through growth.

With this $25,000 grant from J. P. Morgan, we will invest in Women’s Bean Project so the Bean Project can invest in more women and families in our community, helping them break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty.

Please vote for us today!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Christmas in July - Women's Bean Project Giant Christmas Stocking Giveaway!

Okay, we can't make it snow, but we can offer you some cool deals this month! Get a jump start on your holiday shopping this year as we offer you some great specials during our 12 days of Christmas - Christmas in July promotion from July 14th to July 25th.  Shop with us online or swing by our festive retail store at 32nd & Curtis in the historic Five Points area in Denver.   

We will share different product discounts every day through our e-newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, Blog and Pinterest - so make sure you are connected with us in order to receive the special deal each day.  

Plus be entered for a chance to win a GIANT Women's Bean Project Christmas Stocking filled with 10 'Lovingly Handmade' gourmet food and limited-edition jewelry products, a pair of Colorado Rockies baseball tickets (2014 season), a Denver Nuggets autographed team basketball and more! 

Our Giant Christmas Stocking includes some of our favorite lovingly handmade summer products, plus a treat for Fido, a good read for the beach and a taste of Colorado sports:

Happy Holildays!  Giveaway starts Monday, July 14th and will end on Friday, July 25th at Midnight. Giveaway open to U.S. entries only.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

My WBP Story - Nancy

This is Nancy and thanks to you, her future is bright.

We love to see how your support has changed the lives of the women we serve and helped create new futures – for themselves, their families, their communities and our economy.

Nancy, one of our 2013 graduates stopped by the Bean Project recently to say hello and share how happy she is and how much her life has changed because of your support.  

When Nancy came to the Bean Project in 2012 her long-term goals were to build her self-esteem and find work in the hospitality industry. 

"I think my great personality helped me get the job at the Bean Project.  I was so happy and excited for a new chance in life. My goal is to get a great job and stay there for a very long time.  I now know that I can stand on my own two feet. I am strong!" 

During her time with us, our staff referred her to Smiles for Success to receive major dental work which boosted her self-worth going into the job search and interview phase of the program. 

With newfound confidence and through the assistance of her mentor, Nancy obtained her ideal job in hospitality at Christian Living Communities and is now self-sufficient and loving life.

She proudly carries in her purse a Certificate of Achievement that her employer, Christian Living Communities recently gave her – along with her 2nd promotion in a year! 

You can see the transformation that has taken place in Nancy by her beautiful smile and your support.

We are so proud of Nancy and all of the women who have moved on to becoming the women they were meant to be thanks to you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Dream for the Future of Women's Bean Project

What did you dream of when you were 25? What did you imagine for your life? What were the possibilities of your future? At 25 we all dreamed of the promise of our futures. Most of us had no idea how things would turn out. I know none of the women who come to the Women's Bean Project dreamed of addiction or incarceration for themselves. They didn't dream of losing their children or being rejected by one employer after another because of their backgrounds.

When the women who come to the Bean Project were 25, they believed their futures were bright and full of opportunity. Then, something happened to pull them away from their dreams.

Twenty five years ago Women's Bean Project was founded on a dream, a vision for the future. And in many ways we have fulfilled that vision. We have helped hundreds of women in our community create new lives for themselves and their families.

But even as we get better at what we do, there is still a sense of urgency because there are so many more women who need our help. Just as we all had dreams for our futures when we were 25, I have a dream for the future of the Bean Project.
  • I dream of a day when we don't have to turn away any woman who comes to us asking for a chance to change her life.
  • I imagine a time when Women's Bean Project struggles to find enough applicants to fill all of our open positions. 
  • I dream of finding Bean Project products in thousands of stores across the country--the tangible evidence of the women whose lives have been changed.
At 25 it is good to remember why we exist.
  • Women's Bean Project believes in the power of work.
  • We believe that having a job helps a woman create hope, improves her self-esteem and makes her believe she is worthy of a better life.
  • We believe that work is fundamental for women, their families and our community.
We believe in the power of work to restore the dreams that have been lost.  Women's Bean Project creates employment for women because through employment we are able to change lives. The most fundamental way out of poverty is reliable work for adequate pay.

But what I'm talking about isn't just jobs. It's about all of the other things that come from gainful employment:
  • Increased pride and confidence
  • The ability to set and work toward goals
  • The opportunity to provide financial and emotional support to one's family
A job isn't just a job.
  • It is hope.
  • It is a symbol of worth.
  • It is the promise of a future.
Employment at Women's Bean Project brings back that spark, that smile, that time of promise. That's why we exist. Employment changes lives.

I am confident that, after all we have learned in the past 25 years, and with your help, we are positioned to remain an essential part of the community. The demand we see is daunting, but I remain hopeful.  When a woman improves her life it affects us all. Her success is our collective success.
  • We have employed over 700 hundred women, each with an average of 3 children. This is thousands of lives that have been changed.
  • We have decreased time in prison. Employment related programs such as Women's Bean Project have been shown to have the greatest effect on reducing returns to prison. The number one indicator of re-arrest is being unemployed in the year prior to the arrest.
  • We have stimulated the economy. According to the Social Enterprise Alliance, based on research conducted by economists, the economic stimulus of a job created by social enterprises such as Women’s Bean Project is over $80,000 per year. For the 60 women employed at the Bean Project each year, this equates to about $4.8 million in economic stimulus.
As we move into the next 25 years, our focus at Women's Bean Project will be:
  • To ensure every woman who wants to change her life can.
  • To ensure our community is full of self-sufficient mothers so that children don't grow up to repeat the cycle.
  • To ensure that we reduce the need for public assistance.
When I look to the future, I ask, what would it take to accomplish these goals?

Our products are the tangible proof of our cause, but product sales only cover 70% of the cost of employing the women in our program. That's because there are so many other needs, in addition to job readiness skills, that a woman must have met before she can truly work toward self-sufficiency.
  • She must have stable housing and quality childcare for her kids.
  • She must have the ability to set and work toward goals, organize her and her family's life and budget to cover her basic household expenses.
  • Most important, she must have the confidence to believe she is worthy of a better life.
These are the intangibles Women's Bean Project provides. They cost money to support, but their value in a woman's life is immeasurable.

The Bean Project teaches women with little or no computer skills the basics they need to function in the job market. We teach them the importance of coming to work every day, on time and we help them learn to take direction, manage conflict and pay attention to detail.  

We teach the skills so women can earn a living for themselves and their families. We have the answer to breaking the cycle of poverty and chronic unemployment and we are only limited by our resources.

Let's ensure that the dreams of the women we serve can be rediscovered and realized. I invite you to join us in helping women create brighter futures for themselves, their families and our community.

Tamra Ryan
CEO, Women's Bean Project
Author, The Third Law

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

25 Years of Changing Women's Lives - A Word from our CEO

2014 marks Women’s Bean Project’s 25th anniversary.

 A lot has changed since 1989 when Jossy Eyre first imagined a safe and accepting work environment for women, bought $500 of beans and put two women to work making Toni’s 10 Bean Soup.  

Much has changed since the Bean Project was founded:

  • The work world has changed. In 1989 only 40 percent of all female workers used computers at work. Today computer skills are essential to employment, not just on the job, but to get a job in the first place.
  • Welfare has changed. In 1996 the Welfare Reform Act  was enacted to break the cycle of dependency unlimited welfare benefits were believed to provide. The act created a workforce development component for assistance and millions of people moved off of welfare and into the workforce.
  • Female incarceration has changed. During the 90’s, because of drug sentencing laws, the number of women in prison doubled, adding a felony conviction to the barriers to employment for huge numbers of women.

Twenty-five years is a long time, so it’s not surprising that Women’s Bean Project has witnessed a lot of change. I am grateful that so many of our supporters have been with us on this journey. 

The Bean Project’s work is not finished, but the seeds of hope planted with each woman who has walked through our doors over the last 25 years have extended to their families, friends and our community as a whole. 

Thank you for your help on this journey. We look forward to continuing to work together to change women’s lives by helping them help themselves.

Tamra Ryan
CEO, Women's Bean Project
Author, The Third Law

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014 - Our Commitment to a Sustainable Community

Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2014 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time. As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. 

Today - Earth Day 2014 - will seek to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities. With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.

Women's Bean Project's Commitment to a Sustainable Community:

We help women help themselves. We provide opportunities for our participants to discover their talents and develop skills to join the workforce and build a better life.

We strive to “do well by doing good.” We are a social enterprise that believes it is a basic human right to live a stable, healthy life. We serve our supporters, partners, participants and communities by delivering quality products with innovation and efficiency.

Our efforts transform more than the individual woman. The seeds of hope in one woman weave threads of success that expand to families and communities with a reach that touches individuals worldwide. From program participants and vendors to customers, donors and volunteers, their transformations make a difference.

Using the tools we provide, women are empowered to change their lives. Our supporters are empowered with the knowledge that they have contributed, not only to the self-worth and self-sufficiency of disadvantaged women, but also to the broad-reaching benefits our communities reap.

Instead of a one-time handout, women acquire the tools needed to sustain themselves and their families for a lifetime. We believe in nurturing economic sustainability for our program participants and partners, being ever-mindful of our impact on the environment.

Our Commitment to our Guiding Principles

We are proud to purchase beans from Kelley Bean Company. Kelley Bean is a third generation family-owned company that partners with growers to help them achieve their economic goals and ensure long-term sustainability.

We have a long-standing relationship with the Candelaria family in Durango, Colorado. They source for us the finest chiles in the Southwest. These spices are prepared by grinding or crushing and then mixed with the strictest supervision. Samples are then taste tested to ensure a constant quality of excellent taste and texture.

Tim and Tommy Thwaites at Coda Cofee find us the perfect organic, fair trade coffee beans and then roast them just for us.

Rocky Mountain Spice Company, another family-owned firm, has been our partner for many years. Besides being a supplier of most of our spices, their kosher certification and expertise help to ensure our kosher compliance. Additionally, they serve as our consultant in product development.

In 2008 we received a Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Program (NEEP) grant to upgrade the Firehouse #10 facility. The grant paid to blow insulation into the attic, install ceiling fans, apply film to all windows, upgrade some appliances and a variety of other items to decrease our energy usage.

By partnering with Altogether Recycling, we teach the women about recycling and contribute our paper goods and aluminum for recycling.

In a partnership with Vertex, Inc., we decrease our environmental impact of our packaging by using their Expandos, paper pyramids made from recycled paper that cushion the contents of each both. This solution is cost saving, time saving and nontoxic. The machine and the materials are donated by Vertex.

When possible, we use recycled materials for our packaging and packing. We work with a local, female-owned company to identify the packaging and packing materials with the lowest environmental impact.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My WBP Story - Rita

Before starting at the Bean Project, I felt lonely because I didn't know anyone in Colorado. I moved to Colorado from California because I wanted a better environment for my two girls.  

I struggled with depression and anxiety and didn’t have a job so I started job searching and heard about Women's Bean Project and applied.

Before coming to the Bean Project, I had never worked alongside just women before and have since had to learn how to work with other women.  I have learned production skills and how to package and make bundles, which were job skills I had never done before.  

Being in Colorado without my family is easier now because the Bean Project has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know other people.  I don’t feel worthless anymore.  Being at the Bean Project has been a good experience for me because they have helped me get back on my feet and become a stronger person, which is the person I am today.  I can stand up for myself now.

I would tell others that they won’t regret going to Women's Bean Project.  They help you and you can change, if you want to.  I feel stronger and have become more independent.  In five years, I see myself in a house of my own with my two girls and to have my own housekeeping business. 

I was just hired at a brand new Goodwill store in Arvada.  The Bean Project has given me strength.

~Rita, 2014 program participant and recent graduate