Prodigy's culture, what we call our DNA, is a secret ingredient in activating latent talent of our apprentices and community. You can have a social enterprise model and implore all the learning strategies imaginable, but if you don't have the right mindset, the right culture, it's hard to deliver. 

Prodigy's DNA is interconnected with Nouwen's concept of spiritual hospitality (we create space for people to be authentically and fully themselves) and the Homeboy concept of 'firme' (you could not be one bit more perfect). 


Family: We belong to each other and depend on each other
Creative Problem-Solving: We are creative thinking, solutions-driven, problem solvers
Safety: This is a safe physical space, and a safe place to be vulnerable and make mistakes
Majestic Space: We strive to create an aethetically pleasing, powerful, urban space
Work with Pleasure: We want to experience joy, even in the midst of work
Excellence: We are professional, motivated, & constantly striving for excellence within ourselves & the coffeehouse

Comfort: We want guests to have a new experience with a familiar feel
Spiritual Hospitality: We create space for people to be authentically and fully themselves
Deep Work: We work hard in an effort to gain wisdom & insight to live a fulfilled life
Unconditional Positive Regard: We believe that everyone is a gift to the world


Our culture is highly influenced by Homeboy Industries: The largest and most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world; For nearly 30 years, Homeboy Industries has helped formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women re-identify who they are and redirect their lives to become contributing members of the community. Homeboy Industries is the single place that engages the imagination of this marginalized population. Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe and Catering, Homeboy Silkscreen and eight additional social enterprises serve both as a job training grounds and revenue centers for Homeboy Industries.


Prodigy is a proud part of the Global Homeboy Network

PRODIGY'S Training Program

Prodigy will provide technical and applied skills training through a series of Professional Development Modules taught by educators, business mentors and coffee experts. Modules will be structured using the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework, with elements of Design Thinking and the Workshop Model of delivery. UbD is “guided by the confluence of evidence from two streams—theoretical research in cognitive psychology and results of student achievement studies.” UbD uses techniques to engage youth in critical thinking, thus developing long-term understandings and transfer of learning into new contexts. All are essential to 21st century workplace success. 


Additionally infused are best practices in Executive Functioning (EF) development. We are following the lead of Crittenton Women’s Union in Boston, which has demonstrated that EF skills, those associated with decision-making and problem-solving, can be redeveloped with careful programming, and thus significantly improve chances at social mobility. 


Technical skills modules are designed to give youth access to the knowledge and ability to produce and distribute exceptional coffee products. Prodigy Operations Manager Jeffrey Knott will be the lead coffee trainer; developing a technical training program alongside Allegro Coffee, a Colorado-based, Whole Foods Subsidiary, specialty coffee retailer, roaster and wholesale company with a Coffee Lab and training facility. Jeffrey Knott has trained hundreds of baristas, roasters, foodies and managers in Denver (including 150 new staff in the redeveloped Union Station) who have moved into sustainable careers in the industry. Allegro is certified to teach and award the prestigious Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Barista Certification. Prodigy youth employees will complete Allegro training classes: Introduction to Coffee, Brewing Concepts, and Fundamental Barista Skills. These classes cover 80% of content required for the SCAA Certification. Youth motivated and eligible to complete the national certification will have the opportunity to do so. 


Prodigy will recruit youth and young adults from nonprofits, GED programs, public schools and government programs in GES, NE Park Hill and surrounding communities. We will employ a mix of low-income struggling high school youth and ‘disconnected youth,’ 16-24 years old. Prodigy will offer training to youth who intend to become employees as well as to youth from schools and youth-serving organizations who are interested in short-term training rather than training to become employees.


Youth who successfully complete portions of the training will receive a stipend to reward small successes and encourage completion. Some modules will be taught by Prodigy staff and volunteers, while other modules will be taught in conjunction with or by partner organizations. Some modules will be offered during first round of professional development for inaugural crew, while others will be developed and offered in 2016.


Youth who successfully complete the high-standards pre-employment professional development required modules will be offered paid employment at the coffeehouse as a Prodigy Apprentice. Apprentices are paid minimum wage plus tips (an average of $11/hour or more which is a living wage in Denver), and will be cross-trained in all aspects of operations through on-the-job support and ongoing professional development. Youth will rotate responsibilities as baristas, cash-handlers, brewers and ambassadors. After 2 months of employment appropriate youth will begin cross-training in other aspects of operations, taking on more and varied responsibilities as is appropriate. It is the goal that youth will assume operational leadership of the enterprise to the fullest extent possible, after stabilization. Youth who complete 12 months of employment will have the opportunity to play a leadership role in identifying and developing the next Prodigy enterprise with guidance from educators and business mentors.


PRODIGY'S Instructional Strategies

  • Intensive pre-employment training program built by educators using Understanding by Design curriculum development model and incorporating high student agency, Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design instructional strategies

  • Employment opportunity for marginalized young adults, pay exceeding living wage

  • Daily on-the-job instruction and support for hard skill and Essential Skills & Dispositions development with 2 to 1 youth to adult ratio

  • Bi-monthly individualized ‘mobility mentoring’ by Prodigy Executive Staff designed to provide supportive services and performance feedback

  • Bi-monthly all-staff professional developments focused on collaborative & business goals

  • Job & Educational placement and transition planning through Business Mentor program

  • Probationary Employment Program for apprentices unable to meet employment standards without intensive support

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