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Sweet Lala’s Bakery in South Memphis employs juvenile offenders from High Ground News on Vimeo

The recipe for success is to take several eager students.  Provide meaningful workforce development and job skills training.  Fold in love and purpose.  Bake in a spirit of humility and hard work.  Then wait. . .just taste the difference a cookie can make.

Sweet LaLa (Lauren Young) has been baking cookies for more than 30 years.  She officially launched Sweet LaLa’s Bakery in 2002 in Memphis, TN, working out of her home and selling products to friends and family.  Having served as a board member to a local non-profit called JIFF, a highly effective juvenile intervention program for repeat offenders, Lauren understood the harsh reality of employment for young offenders. 

Lauren and her husband Tommy decided to create a LLC, and formally launched Sweet LaLa’s Bakery in 2014 to create a pipeline of employment for JIFF graduates.    The bakery formed a business relationship with JIFF and now contracts with JIFF to supply the student workforce for the bakery.   Bakers become eligible once they have graduated from the 16-week core program JIFF provides.  

All students are paid for any time spent in the kitchen, from training, to production to selling off site. For many students, it is their first pay check and the bakery has become a vehicle for successful employment when students go on to pursue other jobs.  Almost 30 at risk youth have been employed with Sweet LaLa’s Bakery since it opened in December 2014.

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