Common Grounds Café

"Providence College students seek funding to operate student-run community cafe: all net profits go towards community programming!"

The Concept:
Providence College students participating in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Nicaragua in 2012 focused their exploration on coffee growing and production; they visited a Fair Trade grower, and became interested in developing a longer-term project. Simultaneously, the College's School of Business began sponsoring an Entrepreneurship Society, while the Feinstein Institute for Public Service and the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation began convening an economic development incubator group as a project of the newly opened Providence College/Smith Hill Annex. These multiple interests coalesced as students, faculty and community came together to open Common Grounds Cafe at 233 Douglas Avenue.

The Realization:
Now fully operational, there is a clear and concise mission for the Cafe: Common Grounds Cafe aims to integrate the Providence College campus with the Smith Hill community while serving ethically sourced goods and specializing in local products. Common Grounds Cafe will serve as a catalyst for positive change within the surrounding neighborhoods. Operated in partnership with and under the auspices of an established local non-profit, the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, this student-based initiative is supported by many entities and individuals within the Providence College community. Our primary goal is to effectively use retained earnings to identify, organize and implement community improvements through programs and services, inclusive of, but not limited to, those that foster economic development and support affordable housing.

Our Immediate Need:
To raise $50,000 that is urgently needed. These funds will offset the majority of our build-out costs and the first few months of operational expenses. In order to get this project off the ground we received generous donations of seed money from both the Feinstein Institute and the School of Business at Providence College. Their combined giving was over $22,000! Additionally, our wonderful community partner, The Smith Hill Community Development Corporation has made an in-kind contribution of over $20,000 in free rent throughout the build-out phase and until we reach our break-even point. This demonstrates significant existing support from some very serious and committed partners who believe in our cause and have invested heavily in us. But $50,000 is still needed to make up the difference in the actual build-out/start-up costs and to help us with a projected operating expense shortfall until the Fall, when we plan to be more established.

What You Can Do to Help:
Make a contribution to our cause. Here are two options to consider: 1. Make a financial contribution to "sponsor" an item from the actual list of equipment or consumable goods (see below) or 2. Make a general contribution to the overall program. If you choose to sponsor an actual item from the list, please note which item you selected with a note in the "Comments" section on the payment page. All contributors will be recognized in the Cafe in an ongoing permanent manner. Or, contributors can choose to remain anonymous. All donations are tax deductible, as payments will go directly to our community partner and lead organization in this program, the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation a recognized 501(c)3 organization. Any contribution, on any level, is greatly appreciated and helps us to continue to meet our mission!

Cafe Items and Costs:

I/We would like to make a contribution to fund the following. Please indicate choice in comment section on payment information page. General donations of any denomination are welcome for overall operating expenses:

1 Coffee Brewer $ 599.00
1 Coffee Grinder $ 799.00
1 Coffee Filtration $ 280.00
1 Conveyor Toaster $ 350.00
1 Microwave $ 225.00
1 Paninni Grill $ 250.00
6 Airpots for coffee $ 36.00 each
1 Beverage Refrigerator $ 1,275.00
1 Refrigeration Unit $ 1,350.00
1 Display Case $ 290.00
12 Tables $ 50.00 each
12 Chairs $ 60.00 each
4 High Top Chair $ 80.00 each
2 High Chairs $ 40.00 each
1 Trash Receptacle $ 300.00
4 Dairy Dispensers $ 25.00 each
1 Television $ 275.00
1 TV mount $ 115.00
1 Matting Indoor $ 100.00
4 Matting Outdoor $ 45.00 each
2 Air fresheners dispenser $ 50.00 each
2 Air fresheners refills $ 60.00 each
1 A/C Compressor (est) $ 5,000.00
1 Labor Costs (approximately) $ 6,000.00

Monthly Business Expenditures:
Coffee Purchase/mth $ 500.00
Tea Purchase/mth $ 150.00
Soda purchase/mth $ 75.00
Ice Tea purchase/mth $ 100.00
Juice purchase/mth $ 100.00
Baked goods purchase/mth $ 750.00
Cox, TV, Internet, Phone/mth $ 175.00
ADT Security/mth $ 45.00
Loyalty cards/mth $ 45.00
Dairy Products/mth $ 75.00
Ice /mth $ 60.00

Wish List:
Espresso Machine $ 10,000.00

With Sincere Gratitude and Deepest Thanks From,
The Common Grounds Cafe Student Volunteers and College and Community Advisors

Pictured above is just a sample of the leadership behind this project. We all thank you for your support for this tremendous community project! 

Bottom Row Left to Right:
Michaela Bolotin, '16 Student Coordinator of Common Grounds Cafe
Dr. Sylvia Maxfield, Dean of School of Business, Providence College
Thomas Zelano, Common Grounds Cafe Manager and Community Liaison
Lauren Kelly, '13 RICC Americorp Vista, Providence College/Smith Hill Annex Co-Coordinator

Top Row Left to Right:
Dr. Keith Morton, Professor of Public and Community Service Studies and Associate Director of the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, Providence College
Alvaro Soares, Employee and Barista Extraordinaire

For more information or to send us a message please follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Common Grounds Cafe on Facebook
Common Grounds Cafe on Twitter 
Common Grounds Cafe Offical Web Pag


 See top
  • Jack & Julie O'Rourke 
    • $50 
    • 75 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $330 
    • 75 mos
  • Rebecca Goett  
    • $100 
    • 75 mos
  • Dean Maxfield & Providence College School of Business 
    • $2,000 (Offline)
    • 84 mos
  • Dana Dillon 
    • $75 
    • 85 mos
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Thomas Zelano 
Providence, RI
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