Member Spotlight: Baked goods, changed lives, & social enterprise

“What’s more welcoming than hot, fresh baked goods?”

Transitions, a Washington Nonprofits organizational member since 2011, works to end poverty and homelessness for women and children in Spokane, and is doing some exciting work through social enterprise. New Leaf Bakery, a smashing success story, is the result of this innovation, combining an entrepreneurial business model with the traditional nonprofit mission. Since 2006, the bakery has been offering a café and catering services to the Spokane community, as well as free job training for women in the Spokane area who have been struggling to find employment. The program operates through two curricula: an 8 week barista training in the café for participants to quickly get back into the workforce and a more comprehensive 6 month kitchen training that includes front and back of house experience. In 2016, 41 women and youth received job training through this program. 60% of graduates go on to school or gain employment after graduating, and that number jumps to 80% after 6 months post graduation.

Why a social enterprise?
A social enterprise has two bottom lines: social justice and financial success. This is what Transitions was looking for when they decided to start a program in the early 2000s after a funding cut that stranded many of their clients who were in the process of applying for benefits. They evaluated their options and used a survey to discern what values were important to the Transitions community. The word that came back to them was “welcoming.” Mary Reinbold, Development Director, explains how that prompted bakery idea saying, “what’s more welcoming than hot, fresh baked goods?” The Transitions community already shared coffee and “broke bread together,” and New Leaf was the next step.

Since they started, Spokane has embraced the bakery as part of the community and economy, and catering revenue has grown by 20% each year for the last 3 years. Part of this success is due to the supportive and collaborative environment in the kitchen, which leads to quality products and service, valuable to the entire Spokane community. New Leaf is a space where the participants enjoy what they do and have opportunities to gain more responsibility as they gain experience and become leaders on the team.

How does Washington Nonprofits membership help?
Transitions is dedicated to serving their community and does a fantastic job. But when it comes to capacity building for the organization’s management team, they depend on the support from Washington Nonprofits. Whether it is a “big picture” training relevant to the nonprofit sector, or a learning opportunity on a specific topic, they appreciate having the resources available. Reinbold emphasizes the importance of having “different networks of support bolstering us up.”

Collaboration is the key. Through the social enterprise model, Transitions works within the Spokane business community to provide employment services and a new future to women and families in the program. Through New Leaf’s training and the collaborative environment in the bakery, the participants develop leadership and team building skills. You too can collaborate with others by joining Washington Nonprofits—each member contributes to our collective power to ensure that nonprofits in Washington are strong, effective, and heard.

Are you in the Spokane area? Join together with other nonprofits in Eastern Washington for the Inland Northwest Conference for the Greater Good on Oct. 26. We hope to connect with you there!

Find out more about New Leaf Bakery: http://www.help4women.org/programs/new-leaf-bakery-cafe