What, Why, and How
Each year, approximately 20,000 young people “age out” of foster care in the United States at or about age 18. Lacking a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these youth are vulnerable to homelessness, a lack of educational attainment, inadequate healthcare, and a host of other tragic circumstances. Only about half will earn a high school diploma. And about four out of five will become parents themselves within 18 months of leaving foster care.
In Maryland, the scope and circumstances mirror the national data. Of the approximately 7,000 children in foster care, about 1,000 will reach age 18 each year. They enter the system as victims of abuse or neglect, and eventually leave the system with limited resources, inadequate services, and dim prospects. Still more children are coming of age below the poverty threshold. Population data for Frederick County indicate that each year hundreds of these young people locally are beginning adulthood at a significant risk for homelessness, unemployment and incarceration.
Cakes for Cause offers opportunity and empowerment for these vulnerable youth. Since 2008, Cakes for Cause has provided real vocational experience, both through work and by example. Candidates accepted into the program enter a six month apprenticeship that begins with the basics of workplace standards of conduct and performance. Professional staff and volunteers mentor and instruct the apprentices on a daily basis as they work side-by-side in a social enterprise business. The pilot enterprise in Frederick is Moxie Bakery & Cafe, a storefront location serving a downtown neighborhood comprising businesses, gentrified streets, and subsidized housing complexes. The apprentices work in shifts to greet and serve customers, to produce quality foods and baked goods, and to create a positive, enjoyable dining experience by managing all elements of the enterprise.
As participants move through the six month program they receive 368 carefully designed, closely monitored, fairly evaluated face-to-face service hours. During that time they hone their practical work skills, learn how to present themselves with a positive attitude, and become familiar with working creatively as part of a team to produce a quality product.