New Yorkers looking for ravishing caffeine and a community contribution need no further than W57th Street and 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen—a brand-new coffee shop and child support computer donation site.
The Loyalty Foundation, a not-for-profit charity dedicated to providing underserved communities with technical equipment and educational programs, and Don Café, a locally owned Colombian fair trade coffee company, have teamed up to open a storefront donation center and café at 469 W 57th Street (between 9th and 10). Visitors and locals can enjoy fresh brews and donate tech equipment for community use or responsible recycling. A percentage of every sale is donated to the Loyalty Foundation, which partners with organizations across the city and nationally to ensure schools and community groups have free technology accessible to all students.
“We wanted to offer something to the neighborhood that the community could rally behind,” said David Neiman, founder of the Loyalty Foundation. “We wanted to further define what we do in the organization – make ourselves a local presence and spread the word.”
Neiman has lived with his family in Hell’s Kitchen since 2006, and has seen first-hand the impact that universal access to tech education can have. As a practicing attorney, he went from working for ten years in the Manhattan attorney general’s office to the technology sector, where “I’ve really seen how powerful this technology education is in creating a profitable future for people. And how little diversity there is in the industry.”
The after-school coding program at PS 111, where his son attended school, cemented his understanding of inequality in the tech industry. “When I dropped him off to class, I was so excited to pick him up.” But when Nieman put his son together in the paid program, “I saw there was no diversity in the class. That’s where we started. That kind of education should be free. Someone should provide that education for free.”
Neiman and his wife, Operations Director Elizabeth Street, started the Loyalty Foundation from their apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, with the intent of partnering “with community organizations that provide free after-school summer activities for children and ask them to introduce coding into their curriculum, which we will pay for.” They settled on a name derived in part from the name Neman (which means “loyalty” in Hebrew) and often rooted in the concept of community welfare. “The word loyalty is such an important and great word because it’s something everyone wants and desperately needs and it seems to be dwindling in that supply in our society today,” Neiman said. “The concept of loyalty is – when you are loyal to something or someone, it is something outside of you.”
In addition to working with PS 111, The Loyalty Foundation partners with the W52nd Street Police Athletic League and the W49th Street Urban Assembly Gateway School of Technology to provide comprehensive, immersive technology programming, and equipment for young New Yorkers to participate.
“We were working with technology education programs when COVID-19 happened,” Neiman said. “We moved our software online, and some of our students didn’t have computers. So, even though that wasn’t part of our budget, we launched our Devices 4 All program. We have now supplied nearly 2,000 computers across the country – And it all started with small donations from individual supporters at Hell’s Kitchen.”
Slowly, community donations have led to larger contributions from companies, including from big-name organizations like craft seller platform Etsy and gaming sensation Roblox. Neiman said the foundation now hopes to create storefront revenue streams that “make us less dependent on donations.”
Searching for a way to attract locals to the donation center, Neiman looked to another local charitable company to join The Loyalty Foundation’s storefront. The inspiration came after a trip to the Lincoln Square cinemas where he stopped for coffee at the nearby Don Café cart, “Their coffee was really delicious and the owners were very nice, so I called,” he said.
Founded in 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia by mother duo Cecilia Solano and Carlos Guzman, the team at Don Café were already well versed in community care before bringing their business to New York in 2014. Getting their coffee straight from small businesses coffee growers (coffee growers) who have demonstrated social responsibility and who use environmentally sustainable agricultural practices, the company also donates regularly to Fundevida – a non-profit that provides social assistance to children with cancer and blood diseases – and the HIT Foundation (HIT . Foundation), a non-profit organization that provides sports programs for young boys in low-resource communities in Cartagena.
In search of a permanent storefront and a way to continue giving locally, Guzman and Solano were interested in partnering with the non-profit technology. “Our collaboration with the Loyalty Foundation is expressed through the phrase ‘Coffee for a Purpose,’ which has been flagged by our longtime employee and consultant, Santos Sayago,” Guzman said. “It hasn’t been enough for us simply to act. We are also interested in making the social impact that the success of our projects allows. Collaborating with the Loyalty Foundation allows us to grow by forging a new relationship with an organization that is doing critical work in technology with children from under-resourced communities across the states United”.
Nieman hopes that the new café will create an easy and social way for locals to participate. “I think people want to help,” he said. “It’s easier to get someone an old computer or buy them coffee than to solicit donations. And I hate asking for money, even though it’s an important part of the job.”
In the few weeks since it opened, the café has already received a warm welcome from the West End. “The reception we received locally was very strong,” Niemann said. “Coffee is really delicious, so people really love coffee. People are starting to donate their computers. I think the community is embracing it. The response has been great and we want it to be bigger. I think if more people knew about us, if they knew that by buying coffee from us As opposed to everyone else, the money goes directly to the foundation – they may be more interested in supporting.”
“The real concept behind the storefront is to focus on a place where the community sees itself, not just in New York, but across the country,” Neiman said, adding that in three years the foundation had expanded to partner with activists and community organizers nationwide.
He acknowledges that although they have been able to make strides in ensuring students of Hell’s Kitchen and New York have greater access to equipment, there is still progress to be made.
“The goal is to create movement and I think Hell’s Kitchen is the perfect place to do that. Not only is it close to the heart, from here, but it’s where it all began. A café is a place where people come and gather and give computers — we just try,” Neiman said. Knowing how to engage the community more and more.” “It’s a community that I think has really stayed true to its traditions and heritage, but it has grown to be inclusive. Hell’s Kitchen is just a real place where real people live and people aren’t afraid to express themselves and express who they are – and they want to make a difference.”