Giving Back to Coffee Communities

At Jim’s Organic Coffee, we have always supported ways to improve the lives of coffee farmers in and around areas where our coffee is grown.

While our daily business of buying, roasting and selling the finest organic coffees does in fact improve farmers’ conditions, we go beyond this by partnering with small charities to support children’s educational and community development projects in coffee-producing countries. Since 2012, Jim’s has donated over $60,000 to small charities in coffee areas, including the following:

This philanthropy began with a pledge from sales of our Holiday Blend. Now that Jim’s Organic Coffee has grown, our projects are supported throughout the year.

Through partnership with Child Aid

In 1999, Jim’s Organic Coffee focused efforts on building a school library in Tzanchaj, Atitlan, Guatemala; just down the slopes from where our coffee is grown. From planning to construction, the project spanned 5 years, and during that time, more funds were donated to improve general classrooms, better sanitation, and build additional learning spaces.

In 2004, the library was complete, but in need of books! Visiting schools in less developed parts of the world, one is struck by the lack of books in classrooms. The schools make do with what they have, but providing more books greatly increases literacy and encourages a love of reading. In Tzanchaj, Jim’s Organic Coffee donated additional funds to stock the library with Spanish children’s books and textbooks, and funded literacy programs, teacher training programs, and librarian training.

The library was an immediate success with the school and community, showing a positive shift in the students’ attitudes toward reading, as well as their grades. One highly successful literacy program that was introduced involved the village elders telling stories. The stories were told in Tsutsuhuil; the Mayan dialect that the children grow up speaking in Tzanchaj. The elders’ stories would then be translated into Spanish, and made into little books — a great program to bring the community together and teach the joys of reading and writing.

Today, Jim’s Organic Coffee and Child Aid will begin implementing similar programming at a neighboring school in Panabaj, Guatemala. The four year program will include extensive teacher training of the school’s 15 teachers, four literacy book club programs for students, and a total of 1725 books provided to the school, providing a collection of at least 7 books per child in the school by program’s end. Jim’s Organic Coffee is thrilled to participate in and sponsor this program, and to see yet another school in this region flourish through literacy and reading.

Through partnership with the Costa Foundation

In Uganda, we work with the Costa Foundation, a wonderful charity that aims to help coffee growing communities worldwide by providing opportunities for safe, quality education. Piers Blake, the head of the Costa Foundation, shared these details of our work in Uganda:

“With thanks to Jim’s Organic Coffee’s support, students at Bwesumbu PEAS High School in Uganda now have access to critical science equipment, without which it is almost impossible for them to gain the knowledge needed to pass the large practical element of their science exams.

Bwesumbu High School (in Kasese District in South Eastern Uganda) has continued to grow enrollment since the school launched and there are now 510 students, 218 of whom are girls and 230 board at the school.

The school is located in beautiful surroundings, in the heart of the Rwenzori mountain range. Like most areas in this district, the local population depend heavily on coffee for their livelihoods with many local farmers working to cultivate and process the beans.”

Support for science equipment and educational supplies is vitally important in this very rural area, and we are proud to do our part. We also recognize that education is not just in the classroom – our new educational initiative at the school is the development of a multi-purpose sports pitch (playing field), to be used for football, netball, and volleyball. The land will be purchased, leveled, excavated, and landscaped, with goal posts installed to facilitate a variety of sports activities. Jim’s will also donate basic equipment like cones, whistles and nets; sports equipment like footballs and net balls; and sports uniforms, helping bolster physical education programming at the school.

Through partnership with St. John’s Lutheran Church of Columbia, MD

While we no longer purchase coffee from Tanzania (the organic project lost its certification), we are proud to have assisted in bringing clean water to the Good Samaritan Orphanage in the Mbeya region. The Good Samaritan Orphanage is an orphanage for children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS, a widespread problem in East Africa.

In 2009, Jim paid a visit to the orphanage. At the time, the kids would have to walk or ride their bikes the 2+ miles to get drinkable water. Rev. Dr. Robert M’binda, the head of the orphanage at the time, was a charismatic man who wanted nothing more than to help give the kids there a good life. With Jim, a budget was set for a water survey to be taken. This water survey showed that there were underground streams directly below the orphanage. From here, additional funds to dig a well were raised by Jim’s Organic Coffee and St. John’s Lutheran Church. Thankfully, the well did strike water!

The orphanage now has the well, a holding tank, and clean water — not just for the students of the orphanage, but also for the nearby community.

Through partnership with the Costa Foundation

We’ve recently started to work with the Costa Foundation in Honduras, where they have done incredible work building and developing schools in the region where we buy our coffee. Honduras is Central America’s poorest country, with 67% of the population living in poverty, and access to education is difficult for children living in rural coffee growing communities. Our funds are directed toward rebuilding schools with poor infrastructure and purchasing learning materials, with an effort to improve access to higher quality education for these families.