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Students in Hill's Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise Course Open Collaborative Community Café

On April 18, 2023, members of the community celebrated the opening of the Espresso Yourself Book Café at 249 E. High St. in Pottstown! This exciting collaboration involves 32 Hill School students enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise course taught by Twila Fisher, Executive Director of Hobart's Run; Dr. Hoda Ehsan, Chair of Hill’s Engineering Department, who has created a maker space in the building where she will offer workshops for community members; two local nonprofits, The Strive Initiative and Be ReZilient; as well as a local investor and several Hill alumni who have contributed toward this effort to support Pottstown's revitalization.

While the coffee shop will not be staffed entirely by the students, it was their collective vision and classwork that led to this venture, from choosing the name to envisioning a “zero waste” coffee shop featuring used books for browsing and borrowing, the sale of bulk products from shampoo to seeds, a variety of light foods, and shared community spaces. The students will remain involved with the café as this project covers all aspects of a business start-up.

"It's really exciting," noted Fisher. "The kids are super hands-on and we have teams working on maintenance and quality control, marketing (social and advertising), drinks and beverages (coffee and refill bins)."

Fisher and her students want to make sure they are providing a service to the community based on the input from their customers. They are encouraging patrons to share their suggestions on ways the cafe can improve, as well as conducting market research to determine a price structure to ensure their items are not overpriced.

When students are in the cafe for class, they are hard a work making sure the plants are watered, the space is clean, and donated books are sorted. This is a learning experience and one that doesn't end at the opening. According to Fisher, "They do whatever needs to be done. I've told them that when you're an entrepreneur you do it all in the beginning and it's not always fun."

Stay tuned for more to come about this educational and collaborative project. In the meantime, if you’re in the area, please visit the café between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and check out this feature on the café produced by WFMZ: https://bit.ly/41GCZFC.