Creating Jobs and Building Community: Our Partnership With 321 Coffee

Nation-wide, only 19.1% of people with a disability are employed (compared to 65.9% of the general population). In North Carolina, the employment rate of people with disabilities is a bit higher but is still an abysmal 35%, compared to 76% of people without disabilities.

Why are these statistics important? Aside from the obvious — we all need a job to earn money for our basic needs and wants — meaningful work gives us meaningful choices and the opportunity to build community. Without a job, many people with disabilities are left in poverty and without connections to other people.

321 Coffee is an organization here in Raleigh that is creating jobs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and building an inclusive community with them and their customers. Created by four NC State students, this coffee shop has grown quickly and now employs 21 baristas (all with IDD) at its stand at the State Farmers Market.

We are excited to announce our new partnership with 321 Coffee, which includes a loan and a donation toward its goal of opening a stand-alone, brick-and-mortar location. After getting to know the leadership team and meeting the baristas, we couldn’t be more pleased to work with 321 Coffee.

Visiting 321 Coffee at the Farmers Market is a unique experience. Located just inside the Market Shoppes, 321 Coffee has a barista ready to greet you when you walk in the door. From then on, it’s all smiles and friendly customer service as warm as the drinks they serve.

The Power of the Dream is committed to our mission of creating jobs and advocating for adults with autism/IDD in the Triangle area. Through our PowerUP Micro-Enterprise program, we work with entrepreneurs with autism/IDD to build their own small businesses and sell their products at markets. Through our conferences and workshops, we provide education and resources for individuals with autism/IDD and their families on employment, benefits, and self-advocacy. And through our partnerships with other organizations, we are creating jobs at local businesses. Our collaboration with 321 Coffee has just begun. Stay tuned to see what happens next!