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Youth Corps helps Richland Lexington students through coffee

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The group’s new executive director is helping the children develop practical skills by starting their own coffee business.

COLUMBIA, SC — A local organization is working to give ninth and tenth graders in Lexington and Richland Counties a chance to develop life skills — through coffee.

The Youth Corps gathered Saturday morning to say goodbye to Jeff Beacraft, its former executive director, who helped serve the organization for 17 years. He passed the baton to Oakley Dickson who is now the new executive director and brought with him an interesting idea.

Dickson, who took over on January 1, invites students to take a new and creative approach to learning real-world skills by creating their own cafe. They will be selling coffee in the Midlands to learn how a business works.

“When you get to ninth or tenth grade, that’s when kids start making integral decisions that will shape the rest of their lives,” Dickson said. “And so, this is a pivotal moment where these young people are going to make decisions about who they might become.”

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Dickson added that it was a nine-month process, and he said the big picture was not just focused on the present but also the future.

“They get to see so many sectors of the business world,” he said. “They start to find out what they like about a community or what they don’t like. Then they see professionals who work in the city – whether it’s legal, global or financial and they get sit there and start going, ‘Wow, I can do this.'”

Parents Cecil and Joyce Fletcher have seen the process work with their two daughters.

“It’s a great experience,” said one parent. “It gives them things outside of school that they would never learn or see.”

The Fletchers added that anyone considering the program should try to involve their ninth or tenth grader.

Learn more about how to join and get involved visit the Youth Corps website.

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