Emerging Leader Launches Café to Empower Her Community
Convinced that sharing a meal can break down barriers and be a powerful catalyst in healing and deepening relationships, We Raise Emerging Leader Grant recipient Krystle Chipman is using food as a vehicle to bring sustainable change in West Oakland, Calif.
“When you sit down and have a meal with someone, you are likely to realize you have more in common than you originally thought and can develop a meaningful connection,” Chipman said.
While in isolation during the global COVID pandemic, Chipman began to chisel out ideas for a gathering place that would connect neighbors while also creating quality jobs for people overcoming barriers to employment. She drew from her experience working at a café in Denver where the business model was “pay what you can afford.” The 35-year-old also gleaned from her volunteer service with AmeriCorps and from work with the Northern California Grantmakers where she managed the longest-running loan fund in its history. The result was Discover Community Café.
In December 2022, We Raise awarded Chipman a $15,000 grant for her innovative efforts in creating an intentional space to bridge divides, offer healing, and empower local entrepreneurs.
For Chipman, launching Discover Community Café in September 2021 was a matter of walking in obedience. “God has taken me on this journey that has led me to where I am today,” Chipman said. “Jesus commanded us to love God with our all our strength, heart, and soul. He also commanded that we love others. Building community is how my love for people is manifested.”
Discover’s mission is three-fold: creating living wage apprenticeships for people to learn all aspects of running a café and giving them an opportunity for ownership at the end of their training; prioritizing local food services and products by featuring area chefs who provide a rotating menu; and cultivating a safe space to connect with others who live and work in West Oakland.
“I believe in the power of food. It infuses life and character in neighborhoods. As businesses continue to recover from the pandemic, there are huge opportunities to reimagine the food and drink industry. The time is ripe to build and fight for an inclusive economy where everyone can flourish. We need to choose to invest and believe in each other for our collective future,” Chipman added.
Part of the Emerging Leaders grant funds were used to hire a part-time apprentice for Discover and host a professional job development workshop. Chipman is currently developing a plan for a permanent brick and mortar location for Discover, where she can rent out kitchen space while the café is not in use.
“My biggest hope is that we can honor the greatness in every human. By offering hands-on training and workshops, we elevate people’s confidence to achieve their goals and amplify their voice and talent. Transformative change is relational, not transactional,” said Chipman. “That’s why I’m so grateful for the We Raise grant, which is being used to create a space to restore dignity and where people are not defined by their past.”
The generous support of We Raise donors is an investment in the development of emerging leaders like Krystle Chipman who is stepping out in faith to work alongside those in the West Oakland neighborhood in building a brighter future.