Community Partnerships Help Students Thrive

August 9, 2017

They say it takes a village to raise a child. We agree. Community support makes a huge difference in the lives of the high-risk children and families we serve. From the mentors and tutors who work with them one-on-one, to the church groups who bring pot luck dinners, to the local companies who provide support, we deeply appreciate all of them.

Community partners like Ironclad Coffee Roasters have helped UMFS start new programs that have a big impact. In 2016 Career & Technical Education Coordinator Sarah McCaig began to develop a new elective class for Charterhouse School. She wanted to start a Coffee Cart to help the students learn work skills and life lessons to prepare them for the workforce. With a limited budget, Sarah knew she needed a partner to get the idea off the ground.

Ironclad Coffee Roasters opened in February 2016, just one mile from the UMFS campus in Richmond. Sarah noticed their new sign, and stopped in to visit founder Ryan O’Rourke shortly after Ironclad opened.

Ryan set up his business after returning from five years in Ireland. Tea is king in Ireland, and “all the coffee was terrible,” he said. That inspired Ryan to start creating his own. He named his new business Ironclad Coffee Roasters. The meaning of the word Ironclad is very important to Ryan, and he describes his business philosophy as being trustworthy, strong and dependable. Giving back to the local community is part of that, so Ryan quickly agreed to donate all of the coffee for the new Coffee Cart program.

As part of their class, the Coffee Cart students have visited Ironclad twice to learn how coffee is roasted. Ryan really enjoyed hosting them. “They were firing off questions and you could see the brightness in their eyes. They loved the whole experience.”

Ironclad is a small batch coffee roaster, roasting just 20 pounds of coffee at a time. This process gives them great quality control which yields a very high quality product. They sell their coffee to a lot of local coffee shops and restaurants. Thanks to their partnership with the Coffee Cart, Ironclad’s tasty coffee is now a UMFS staff favorite as well.

Click here to learn more about Coffee Cart.