JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A popular Jacksonville coffee roaster is partnering with a local nonprofit to brew up a blend aimed at creating positive change.
The EVAC Movement was created to help local youth address issues that impact them, such as racism and violence. It first started in a class at Lee High School where police officers were invited to join in-class roundtable discussions.
The group has received national recognition for its work in the community.
“We were drawn to EVAC because of the success it has had, despite no formal funding or connections, in giving hope, and a voice to underserved youth in our community,” Zack Burnett, owner of Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, said in a prepared statement.
Vincente Waugh, a former Lee High student, has been part of the nonprofit for a few years.
“It impacted the approach of how I went about my daily life, you know, how I went about getting assistance in small aspects of understanding who I was as individual and how I can help my community,” Waugh said. “I can say that I’m confident that I help younger individuals, younger than me, and in a worse position than I was and assist them in their daily life.”
Burnett says EVAC has been a “powerful force for good” in Jacksonville.
“Zack heard about some of the things we’re doing and he wanted to help,” said Amy Donofrio, the co-founder of EVAC. “He said, ‘How about we do our own event, coffee blend?’ And we said, ‘Let’s go.’”
On Thursday, Bold Bean began selling the EVAC Blend, an Ethiopian blend. The packaging reflects the colors of Ehtiopia’s flag, and it’s said to symbolize elements that reflect the movement, including hope, strength and peace.
Renita Turner is the creator of the #BringBackEVAC petition. She calls EVAC a way out that gives young boys encouragement.
“Double their GPAs, graduate high school, be the first ones to go to college out of their families,” she said. “Things that they probably thought they’d never do but they’re doing it in EVAC, and that’s what EVAC is about. Encouragement, showing boys another way.”
Before the 2017 school year, Donofrio announced in a Facebook post that the class would not be returning when classes resumed.
Now, one of EVAC’s advocacy projects involves efforts to return the EVAC class to the school and bring it to other Duval County schools. There’s a petition on Change.org.
“All of the things our kids are going through and the struggles that they have -- this class is so important. EVAC is so important,” Turner said.
The 12-ounce bags are available at Bold Bean locations as well as its website. During the month of September, 100% of the EVAC Blend’s proceeds will go to the EVAC Movement. After, 10% of the proceeds will benefit the movement.