Belift Specialty Coffee: Providing equal employment and education opportunities for homeless youth in San Francisco (

We empower underserved youth population to learn soft skills, practice their training and believe in themselves in creating better future.

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Ivan Leonardo Hartanto

Initiative's representative date of birth

November 7, 1994

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • USA

Where are you making a difference?

San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States of America

Website or social media url(s)

Website: Instagram: @beliftcoffee

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $10k - $50k

Organisation Type

  • Hybrid

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

It was Friday late night in the fall of 2019 and both Karrie and I were wrapping our work session for the week in our 44 Montgomery WeWork office 'hot desk'. Having set our growth strategy in the office space's coffee market, I had to admit that it was a tough session since we were not able to find a service program that generates enough interests our customers. On the way out, we met our community manager, Grace, and chatted for a bit. We shared about our coffee office program and how it would provide job opportunities for our youth with her and she got hooked with the idea. We got ourself a contract to run a paid pilot at her space and this indeed was a turning point for us. Now, we are serving at 10 different WeWork spaces!

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

Per the US Government 2018 data, there were more than 36,000 unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25 in the US; About 12,000 (33%) and 4,000 (9%) of them reside in California and in San Francisco, respectively. A study further estimated that these youth receive 50% less income than minimum-wage earner and are 30% less likely to complete GED from their average peer. Belift strives to create equal opportunities these youth to grow.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In San Francisco, Belift partners with nonprofits or school district liaisons that cater toward at-risk youth communities and provide them soft skill training, customer service knowledge and barista internship opportunities. These partners help spread our mission and the opportunities for the youth to work with us. Furthermore, we first ensure that throughout the training period, our students receive financial incentive to continue their education (typically in the form of gift cards or cash). In attempt to scale the impact more quickly, we also offer to train our partners (teachers of staff members) on our modules and are looking to work with coffee communities (hobbyist or professional barista) to support us in conducting the internship. Once youth obtained the necessary soft-skills and basic coffee knowledge, we employ them as barista in our 'Kitchen Takeover' coffee service program (KTO). KTO is a service by Belift where we come into office or co-working spaces to open mobile coffeeshop with 2-3 barista. Once the youth completes multiple works with us, we work to connect them with full-time employment opportunities available in San Francisco.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

We democratize our soft-skill modules to be implemented in all youth-focused non-profits or government agencies. We incentivize youth to complete our training by offering them a certificate and an opportunity to work in our coffee service program to exercise what they learned in class and obtained work experience. We believe that our secret mission is to bring self-confidence back to the youth. We are grateful to share that two graduates of Belift's impact program have obtained on a full-time position in other consumer goods retail jobs.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

We build and teach youth 12 basic mental models that we believe are important skill-sets. The 12 models include Problem Solving, Opportunity Seeking, Learning how to Learn, Goal Setting, Identifying Cause and Effect, Prioritizing Resources, Compound Interest, Behavior Change, Cognitive Bias, Network Building, Experimenting, Your Own-self. Each module can be taught within 2-3 hours, depending on the size class, and we also run training sessions for our nonprofit partners to develop in-house workshop leaders. Furthermore, in our coffee operator program, we teach youth basic barista skills (making coffee, greeting customers, sharing information about coffee) for about 4-5 hours before they are able to work with us. The youth are receiving $20/hr compensation starting from their time studying in our coffee operator program and in their future work with us.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

We focus on teaching soft-skills and basic customer service knowledge toward youth. We believe that these two sets of skills are industry-neutral and can be useful throughout their future career. We measure the outcomes, output and impact of our program: - Outcomes: Number of youth going through our training - Output: Results from self-assessment that the youth completed and Number of youth being employed in our program - Impact: Number of youth working full-time post Belift training

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We believe no one else in the US coffee market is approaching the problem of homeless youth from our angle, which is empowerment through soft-skill and practical training education. Having said that, we have seen other similar models that work for different underserved communities (immigrants, previously incarcerated people) in the coffee industry. We are proud to call these trailblazers our idols and are hoping to replicate their success in our focus group.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Since August 2019.. Outcomes: We have 10-15 youth going through our training program weekly via our partners and currently are looking to add two more non-profit partners Outputs: We have 3-4 youth currently working as a barista/coffee operator with us Impact: We have 2 youth graduated from our Belift program and now work full-time

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We have been self-funded and now have been successful in making a little bit of profit from our coffee service program. We envision that this "Kitchen Takeover" coffee service can remain profitable on its own (we make enough margin per event) and now focus on scaling our program to different cities across the US. In short, medium and long term, we would not require external funding as long as we can keep building our sales pipeline toward the communities of office coffee drinkers.

10. Team

We started with two co-founders: One technical (coffee expert) and One non-technical. 7 months in, we now have two additional full-time staff members (coffee experts) and two additional part-time staff members from the at-risk youth communities. We currently have one person in our customer board member and work closely with our non-profit partners to curate contents and to develop our impact. We are hoping that by the end of 2020, we can have two additional full-time staff to run our service.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Nationality

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

I would argue that my Indonesian nationality has helped me to think out of the box, which ultimately lead to starting my social enterprise, Belift. At its core, we built Belift as a platform to benefit not just San Franciscan at-risk youth, but also Indonesian coffee farmers. I saw the opportunity that there is a lack of Indonesian coffee supplies in the specialty coffee business in San Francisco. Being Indonesian, I was able to find farmers directly and source high quality, unique coffee.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation:

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2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

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3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

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4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

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6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 100%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 0%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

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7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 50%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

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