Rise to Higher Grounds Celebrates Grand Opening
Tuesday, June 20 marked the grand opening of Rise to Higher Grounds, an initiative brought to life through a partnership with the Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) and Merced County Probation to provide youth on probation with the opportunity to gain work experience and skills in the cafe industry.
The grand opening ceremony took place earlier today at the coffee trailer’s home location, where distinguished guests, community leaders, education officials and representatives from probation joined in the celebration to honor the official ground-breaking of the collaboration.
In a presentation to the Merced County Board of Supervisors last fall, Merced County Probation officials shared the latest progress in the local juvenile justice system, which included Rise to Higher Grounds — the mobile coffee trailer operated by staff from the MCOE Adult ROP Culinary Essentials program and supervised youth on probation.
As part of the program, Merced County Probation sends eligible students from Juvenile Hall to the MCOE Career and Technical Education (CTE) Culinary Essentials class where they learn necessary skills to staff the cafe.
Culinary Essentials Instructor Tisha McParland worked for three years to get the joint venture off the ground. “It has definitely been a process,” said McParland, who added that it took a lot of planning to reach this point. “From licenses, permits, purchasing and stocking of the trailer, as well as many other necessary requirements to get the trailer up and running.”
Despite the lengthy process, McParland believes it is a great opportunity for students. “They will learn so many skills, from customer service, operating a POS System and most importantly becoming baristas.”
Merced County probation officers will drive the trailer to the selected sites around MCOE, Merced County and Merced City throughout the week, where McParland, along with students, will sell coffee from Peet’s Coffee menu and light food items prepared by students in the CTE Culinary Essentials class.
The program will help students obtain work experience, develop skills in customer service, teamwork and accountability. “The many skills they learn will carry with them as they enter their career paths,“ said McParland.
Students will also gain employment eligibility with national coffee chains known to hire staff with a history of involvement in the judicial system or those reentering society.
The cafe officially launched on Tuesday, June 20 and currently only accepts credit card payments. Rise to Higher Grounds will share locations, times and updated menu items regularly on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.