We are a group of diverse volunteers with a common passion to end human trafficking and rescue it’s victims. Although established and overseen by the Amherst Project, it is our volunteers that drive this movement. The synergy between our volunteers and the Amherst Project supplies both innovation and oversight to our social enterprise.
Since 2008, we have wanted to operate a café in which 100% of the money brought in would go to charitable causes working to end human trafficking. In the past, this has not been possible because of the overhead involved in opening a café. In 2011, we acquired property on campus that brought this dream to life. With all bills paid by the tenants living on the second floor and an eager group of socially minded students willing to volunteer their time, we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.
In 2016 we closed to relocate to a larger more suitable location. In the Fall of 2017 we moved to 434 Northplesant Street, just off the in the lower parking lot of the First Baptist Church in Amherst. This move carries the same benefits of our previous location, but increase our serving space from 80 square feet, to 800! Because of the common vision between the Freedom Cafe, and the First Baptist Church, we operate without the financial liability of rent or utilities while providing our guests and volunteers a much more suitable experience.
Human trafficking is a big problem in the world today. We want to do our part to both raise funds to rescue victims enslaved around the world, but also to raise awareness among our students at UMass. Many who are religious, non-religious, atheist and agnostic see the need to stand up for justice in this area.
Prior to 2019, our focus was building vocational centers in India. The purpose of this focus was to easily communicate what we were doing with the money we raised. Since than, we’ve noticed that having our focus on the other side of the world isolated us from the injustice that was happening here in Western Massachusetts.
Many students are familiar with the issue of human trafficking, but are uneducated and unsure of how to help. Operating a café in which the profits go to a charity working to end human trafficking allows them to do social justice by simply drinking coffee. Raising awareness and cultivating a concern for others can only help the climate of UMass become less self-serving and more others-centric. We hope to not only provide the UMass and Amherst community with a delicious coffees and teas, but also a chance to do good in the world one cup at a time.
We have the ability to raise thousands of dollars each semester by drinking coffee. Our café is non-profit but also, it is our intention is that 100% of what you give goes directly to our cause through our 100% strategy.
100% Strategy: It is not enough to give our profits to our cause. We want 100% of your donation to go directly to helping rescue victims of human trafficking. Currently we have no overhead in the area of rent, utilities and serving staff. We are actively looking for corporate sponsors to donate things like coffee, cream, sugar and paper goods so that our benefit can be 100% of what our donors give.
We believe that by volunteering in our café, drinking coffee, and participating in our events, that students will begin to look at those in need, and those meeting the need as fellow brothers and sisters.
When people hear what is happening around the world, and are given a clear way to make a difference, they will act.
Between the years of 2012 and 2017 we have helped establish a vocational center in India among a group of women who lived in a culture of sexual exploitation. In this center they have learned skills to help them earn money and even set off to start their own businesses. The next stage of our work will be helping to finance these enterprises through the use of micro-loans. As they pay back these loans, the funding will be directed to the next group in need. More about this will be published in our news section.
At UMass, our group has been growing. We have had over 400 student volunteers, and conducted over 120 educational events.
The Amherst Project is an affiliate corporation under the covering of a religious 501(c3). The Amherst Project has a passion to end human trafficking by taking serious Jesus’ teachings to liberate the oppressed and have an others-focused approach to life. The Amherst Project also makes the Freedom Café possible by providing our space, and overseeing our operations. It is because of their religious affiliation that we are able to operate inside a residentual space. This brings down our overhead dramatically, allowing us to give more to our cause.
In 2012 another chi alpha group at the University of New Hampshire was wanting to take our vision and launch a Freedom Café on their campus as well. After a couple years, they asked if they could take the Freedom Cafe model along with its intellectual property and branding, and create an official 501(c3) to work under. Their orginization is called ‘The Freedom Cafe’ which you can learn about at thefreedomcafe.org. Both Freedom Cafe’s carry the same vision and passion to end human trafficking.
UMass Chi Alpha is a christian arm of Amherst Project. We have been operating on campus since 2006. As christians, our faith motivates us to love people as God does. Jesus taught us that our faith is represented through our works. Our faith motivates us to love the world as Christ does. learn more