Stories of Success

Watch the videos below to learn more about our amazing, inclusive, socially-responsible, student-run businesses. Get inspired to start your own.

Highlander Roasters at Homestead High in Mequon, Wisconsin

Two years ago, a diverse group of Homestead High students (both regular and special education), set out to form a viable student business. Conducting market research, they learned that all the coffee machines had been recently removed, and teachers were clamoring for coffee during the school day. So, the Homestead students decided to launch the Highlander Roasters, a coffee business, to meet this unmet need. Students developed a partnership with a local coffee roaster, who trained the students as baristas. The students made their business eco-friendly, by providing, personalized, laser engraved reusable coffee mugs to all staff/teachers and by creating fertilizer from used coffee grounds. When a faculty member and student were both diagnosed with leukemia, the business donated part of their profits to leukemia related charities. 
Highlander Roasters at Homestead High in Mequon, Wisconsin

Soup on the Fly at Fredonia Schools District in Fredonia New York

Students with and without disabilities operate Soup on the Fly, a bi-weekly soup restaurant for faculty, staff and students. Students incorporate vegetables grown on the 15 campus gardens, as part of the school’s farm to school program. They develop healthy recipes, and manage all of the business functions from restaurant set up to financial management. Soup on the Fly employed 50 students with and without disabilities, and donated $1850 of their proceeds to worthy causes, including helping an alumnus rebuild after her house was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.

Soup on the Fly at Fredonia Schools District in Fredonia New York

Cool Beans at Pioneer High in Yorkshire, New York

A group of 4 students with emotional and learning disabilities launched Cool Beans, a student-run coffee shop offering hot and cold beverages. Now staffed by 7 students with and without disabilities, Cool Beans serves fair trade coffee, is currently self- sustaining, and donates profits to African coffee farmer collectives and other groups globally.  Cool Beans became a haven for students looking for a warm welcome, and staff looking for a hot cup of coffee.

Cool Beans at Pioneer High in Yorkshire, New York

Power Bike Service and Repair Shop at Will Rogers Middle School in Fair Oaks,  California

After the school district discontinued busing for general education students, many students began to ride their bikes to school. In order to stay safe, bikes must be well maintained.  To meet this need, students with and without disabilities opened, Power Bike, a Bike Service and Repair Shop offering simple repairs of flat tires, minor maintenance, and tune‐ups. More than 40 students with and without disabilities are employed with Power Bike. Power Bike has more than 13 community partners including numerous scout troops and local bike shops. They have become a place where students with diverse skills, including mechanical aptitudes, can shine.

Power Bike Service and Repair Shop at Will Rogers Middle School in Fair Oaks,  California

Step n Stones at Lincoln High in Manitowoc, Wisconsin

In January 2012, Lincoln High students with disabilities initiated a business,Step’nStones, that sold key chains and tie knot blankets. Students expanded the business to include catering, grilling and brat frying. 16 students are currently employed with Step n’ Stones.  Step n’ Stones products are being commercially sold at 11 local businesses. They also led a coalition of students with disabilities to Washington D.C. where they met with legislators to advocate for Jobs First policies for young people with disabilities. 

Step n Stones at Lincoln High in Manitowoc, Wisconsin

SEED at City High in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

City High is a small, independent, EPIC Award winning, urban, public school located in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Over sixty percent of City High’s students qualify for the “Free or Reduced Lunch” program. City High is a “full inclusion” educational environment without a “resource room” or “tracking. Students with and without disabilities founded, and run, SEED (Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown), which manages all of the school’s recycling. Last year SEED recycled more than 10 tons of paper, glass, and plastic.  As part of their project, SEED students created (from start to finish) a documentary on what it means to succeed with a disability.

SEED at City High in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Part 1

SEED at City High in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Part 2

SEED at City High in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Part 3


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