Supporting Social Enterprises
GSSW community partners provide socially conscious options for gift giving
The University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) partners with a wide range of community organizations, including several social enterprises that offer terrific options for socially conscious gift giving that supports local communities.
DIRT Coffee Bar
DIRT Coffee Bar is a local, women-run social enterprise with the mission to provide quality coffee, food and drink while training, employing and empowering neurodivergent individuals through workforce development programming. GSSW alumna Catharina Hughey, MSW ’18, is the organization’s executive director.
Gift Ideas from DIRT include:
- Coffee mugs
- Pronoun pins
- Gift cards
EarthLinks forms connections among people and with the Earth for their mutual benefit. Their mission is to cultivate transformation and self-worth with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. EarthLinks participants do organic gardening and create Earth-friendly products; they are paid hourly while earning a monthly stipend to help pay for housing, groceries, transportation, medical care or other personal needs.
Gift Ideas from EarthLinks include:
- Health and wellness items such as soap and lip balm
- Local honey
- Earrings sourced from recycled materials
Women’s Bean Project
Founded in 1989 by GSSW alumna Jossy Eyre (MSW ’86), The Women’s Bean Project aims to change women’s lives by providing steppingstones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise. They hire women experiencing chronic unemployment and work together to break down the barriers they face. Program participants receive full-time pay as they develop job readiness skills, discover their talents and break the cycle of poverty.
Gift Ideas from Women’s Bean Project include:
- Soup mix
- Mixes for baked goods such as cornbread and brownies
- Spice blends
Support Black-Owned Businesses
From clothing to food to fashion, the Denver area is home to more than 400 local Black-owned businesses. Here are just a few:
- Located in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood, TeaLee’s Tea House and Bookstore provides high-quality loose-leaf teas, food and specialty drinks in an Afrocentric atmosphere.
- The Edward Joiner clothing brand is focused on simplicity, sustainability and comfort in its fabrics and designs.
- Ti-a Woven Goods sells products handmade by women in Ghana, helping them to keep traditional skills alive and adapt their art into products that are environmentally friendly, useful and sought after.
Other Ideas for Giving and Getting Involved
There are many other creative ways you can make gifts with impact. Here are some ideas:
- Stock your local Community Fridge with fresh food and treats for your neighbors.
- Share baked goods or items from your own home in your local Buy Nothing group, and accept items that you can use or regift to others. Have a skill? You can share your knowledge and time, too!
- Join Mutual Aid Monday to provide a Monday night community meal for people experiencing homelessness.
- Donate nonperishable food to the SAME Café, a fair-exchange restaurant that serves healthy food to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Pitch in to pay for meals for others who may not have the means, or volunteer to work a shift with friends or family!
- The Colorado Safe Parking Initiative provides safe overnight parking and services for people who are unhoused and living in a vehicle. Support guests with gift cards for gas, oil changes, tires or groceries, or provide a hot homemade meal for guests.
- Provide nonperishable food or host a food drive for the University of Denver Food Pantry, helping to reduce food insecurity among students.
Support Local Businesses Year-Round
Throughout the year, you can grow an inclusive economy by supporting local businesses. The Center for Community Wealth Building is a GSSW partner and MSW internship site working to advance a people-owned, inclusive and sustainable Metro Denver economy that catalyzes prosperous and resilient communities free from racism and injustice. Check out their list of local Black-owned, Indigenous-owned, people of color-owned, women-owned and immigrant/refugee-owned businesses.