Mayor Michael A. Nutter cut the ribbon officially opening The Monkey & The Elephant, a new coffee shop in Brewerytown that provides employment opportunities to young adults who are transitioning out of the foster care system in Philadelphia. The café employs five former foster youth, training them in the skills of coffee making and retail in a supportive, community environment.
“The Monkey & The Elephant is a great example of an organization taking an innovative approach to creating opportunities for young people from all backgrounds,” said Mayor Nutter. “Each young person in Philadelphia should have an individual success plan and through our Department of Human Services, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Services, and many other parts of city government we are supporting programs and efforts that help them reach their full potential. I wish The Monkey and The Elephant the best of success.”
The Monkey & The Elephant is a non-profit organization focused on helping former foster youth navigate the transition to adulthood. The new café offers job and life skills training to the young adults in the program. The organization was founded by former AmeriCorps alumnus Lisa Miccolis who formerly served at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School in North Philadelphia and worked at numerous coffee establishments in the city.
In 2010-2011, Ms. Miccolis spent 5 months traveling in New Zealand and Australia and it was on this trip that the idea for The Monkey & The Elephant was born. In 2012, she opened a pop-up café, which moved to Manayunk and South Kensington before she found the space in Brewerytown.
“I am excited to have a permanent location from which we can fully implement the vision for The Monkey & The Elephant,” said Lisa Miccolis. “We have received a warm welcome from Brewerytown and every day I’m shown why it was the perfect part of the city for us to get started in”
One of the five young people working at The Monkey & The Elephant is Joseph Hill Coles, an alumnus of DHS’s Achieving Independence Center and PowerCorpsPHL. He is currently working at The Monkey & The Elephant while attending classes at Community College of Philadelphia and continuing his AmeriCorps service as a near-peer mentor to YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter High School students.
“I went from being a homeless youth in Philadelphia to graduating from PowerCorpsPHL, working at the Monkey and the Elephant, and excelling greatly,” said Joseph. “The opportunity to work at the Monkey and the Elephant turned even sweeter for me when I found out that they were employing former foster care youth, like myself, and that we would be engaging the community with positive vibes and terrific coffee.”
PowerCorpsPHL, launched in September 2013, is an AmeriCorps program designed to support Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s environmental stewardship initiatives, as well as the City of Philadelphia’s youth violence prevention and workforce development priorities. Annually, PowerCorpsPHL enrolls 136 highly-at-risk 18 to 26-year-olds in a 6-month AmeriCorps program that provides participants with the opportunity to develop the skills required to become environmental stewards, secure meaningful work, and become civically engaged members of society.