ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Paraquad is launching a new venture, a social enterprise cafe that serves coffee, breakfast and lunch, while providing job training for people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities are the poorest minority and the unemployment rate is nearly double that of the general population, so we wanted to do something really very practical in terms of giving people the skills to get out there in the community and do something,” says Kevin Condon, director of marketing and public relations at Paraquad.

The cafe itself will open in the fall and offer a curriculum up to 12 weeks in the food service industry, all aimed at getting people with disabilities their first job.

“The idea came from thinking ‘where is the highest needs in St. Louis’ and that would be the hospitality and food service industry, and so we though this would be a great opportunity to give folks with disabilities real work experience and make them more competitive in the job market,” says Paraquad President and CEO Aimee Wehmeier.

Students will have to apply to the classes and there will be a cost, however Wehmeier says they plan on having scholarships available to make the training more affordable.

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