Design Week Portland Speech

A few days ago, my friend Akili and I presented at Design Week Portland’s opening event. Here is what we said.

One day I was walking through the cafeteria, and I saw our students making cakes and pastries in our well renowned culinary arts program. While this program is popular and a great asset to our school, we thought students could use their skills in the kitchen to give back to the community. We wanted to take our skills beyond school doors, so we started CardsCook, named for our mascot, the Cardinals.

While Lincoln High School has a reputation of being a school for privileged students and wealthy families, all around us we are dealing with homelessness. Just outside our school in downtown Portland we see the homeless problem that is rampant in our city and every year several homeless students attend our school.

Dedicated to serve the young adult homeless population, CardsCook Partnered with Oregon Food Bank and Saint Stephen’s episcopal church to serve meals after school. At least once a week 5-10 students walk across the street and prepare a meal for 300 – 500 people under the age of 25. Over the past two years, we have served over 27,000 meals, and almost 100 high school students have volunteered over 2,000 student hours. We teach business classes, art classes, and english classes to the people that we serve.

While these stats are nice, we know we can do more and that is why we created Oregon’s first homeless solutions incubator. HSI is working with oregon food bank to create a discussion between homeless young adults, students, and the city about solutions to our cities problems. We have almost raised our goal of 10,000 dollars to create affordable small scale actions that will improve the quality of life for homeless people.

This project is unique because we work directly with homeless people on these solutions. Next year we plan to present our solutions to the City, showing which ones work and can be scaled to improve the lives of people living on the streets.

Not only do we use our money effectvily, we also use it efficently. Last year, we found that we were more servings than we were serving, and a lot of food was going to waste. We started tracking attendance and weather and created an algorithm that allows us to estimate the number of servings needed based on the forecast, reducing waste and lowering costs

In late April, we will be meeting with the homeless community to decide on five solutions to sponsor, and using the money we have raised we will implement these solutions before the year end.

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