More Than Words began in 2004 as Teen LEEP (Leadership, Employment &Enrichment Program), an online bookselling venture to provide employment and entrepreneurship training for teens in the foster care system. The pilot began in a small 150 sq. ft. office in Watertown with four young men from a local DCF (Department of Children and Families) group home, a few donated laptops and one bookshelf of donated books. In two short months it was necessary to move to a larger 650 sq. ft space and by June, 2005, Teen LEEP had both a storefront in Waltham, and a new name determined by the youth – More Than Words. The storefront space allowed MTW to increase the number of youth served as well as to focus on additional employment skills including retail management, event planning, and customer service training. The storefront also positioned our youth to gain confidence, poise and communication skills, as they were interacting with the community on a daily basis.
After its initial two years, MTW made the strategic decision to develop a Transitions Program focused on helping youth transition out of MTW into meaningful jobs and college and to provide support to ensure their success for at least a full year thereafter.
In the interest of continuing to challenge youth, and after extensive planning and development, MTW launched its new café training program in August, 2008. MTW received incredible support from Starbucks, which donated equipment and supplies for the startup of the café; Starbucks now generously subsidizes the cost of coffee, tea, and supplies, and provides pro-bono training. MTW collaborated with Kitchens with a Mission and Fare Start, a leading nonprofit social enterprise in Seattle, to develop this new program.
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