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West Philadelphia coffee shop helping young people earn diplomas

West Philadelphia coffee shop helping young people earn degree
West Philadelphia coffee shop helping young people earn degree 02:53

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- To say Elijah Taylor is proud of his job is an understatement.

Taylor works at YouthBuild Philly's Stomping Grounds Social Justice Cafe. It sits on Lancaster Avenue near 39th Street in the heart of Powelton Village in West Philadelphia.

"You get to be yourself here. I feel like that's something that's really taken for granted," Taylor said.

For Taylor, who was questioning his future, the cafe became his answer.

"Sometimes, I think some people just need to see what they need to do. For me, I always felt like the road was blurry like it was unclear what I wanted to do." 

Then he met Stomping Grounds' incoming CEO, Le'Yondo Dunn.

"Family," Taylor said.

Dunn runs YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. The two-year program helps students ages 17-21 earn a high school diploma and trade certification in year one and provides post-secondary support in year two.

"A lot of our young people come to us expressing to us they didn't feel safe, they didn't feel welcomed at that previous school," Dunn said.

Taylor went to several Philadelphia high schools before getting his diploma at 21 years old at YouthBuild. Half his day is spent behind the coffee counter and the other half is in a classroom.

"Our young people primarily come from economically depressed neighborhoods such as West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, the Kensington area," Dunn said.

Something that connects these students with their community is the "Say their name" wall. It contains the names of people lost to violence.

CBS News Philadelphia

"We had lot of people lose their lives to gun violence, we developed a lot of grief," a student said. "And there's two students on here that we lost within two years."

These young people have proven to stick together during difficult times and Stomping Grounds Café is a place where coffee makes everyone's day a little brighter. 

"Sometimes you just need that little push to get you on your way," Taylor said.

These students are paying it forward.

"Coffee With Veterans" event at Stomping Grounds Cafe

CBS News Philadelphia is partnering with Stomping Grounds Cafe for our Coffee With Veterans event, where students will be brewing up a free cup of coffee for veterans here next Monday. 

We'll be live beginning in our morning show and hoping to bring two generations together for some great conversations.

The event takes place from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

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