Did you know that just across Curtis Park, there is an incredible organization called the Women’s Bean Project? We didn’t either! The mission of Women’s Bean Project is to change women’s lives by providing stepping stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise.
Founded in 1989, The Women’s Bean Project purchased the old firehouse in the RiNo neighborhood and renovated it to accommodate a factory, in which their employees package and sell bean soup mixes, baking mixes and other dry food products to stores across the U.S. and online. Not only do their products smell and taste incredible, its the employees of the WBP that are incredible too.
The WBP is a human services organization designed to provide a safe and accepting work environment where impoverished women can learn the skills required for gainful employment. Chronically unemployed women, women who have not held the same job for a year, women who may have been involved in a domestically violent situation, convicted felons, recovering addicts, many were teenage mothers and high school drop-outs, turn to the WBP for a chance to create new lives & seek better opportunities for themselves through work, wages and education.
The women who apply and gain entry to this program are involved from six to nine months at the factory, packaging and selling the dry mixes for a fair pay. Not only are they working and making money independently, the WBP also requires the ladies to attend their various complimentary classes such as math, literacy, skill building, resume writing, addiction aid (if necessary) and other self-help courses. The women attending classes also get paid for their time in class if they are on the road to obtaining their GED. Although the factory does not provide housing on site, they do provide resources to their employees for safe and reliable housing nearby. After completing the 6-9 months of the program, their graduation rate is incredibly high – 90% and they do keep in contact with graduates, (70 women a year are accepted into this program) many of which are successful in finding and keeping employment after their time in this program.
If you are interested in volunteering your time or skills to the Women’s Bean Project, please reach out to Luanne Hill, Development Director. They are always accepting willing teachers to stop in and teach classes to the women of the bean project, whatever your specialty may be, tech, sales, HR, interviewing etc. Also, on the 1st Friday of the month from 12PM-1PM and 4th Thursday of the month from 5:30PM-6:30PM the Women’s Bean Projects opens their doors for tours of their facility to the public!
Thank you to Tamra Ryan, CEO of the Women’s Bean Project, who graciously gave me a tour of the factory and educated me on the incredible work they are doing.