School Grounds workers, Emile and Benzi

School Grounds


A warm cup of freshly brewed coffee, sold at an affordable price, served with a smile.  Welcome to School Grounds, the JCFS TDS coffee cart.  Every morning, eligible students work or volunteer at the independently run coffee cart, offering a variety of coffee flavors and creamers.  Customers consisting of staff, parents and visitors of JCFS TDS and JCFS Chicago visit every day.  

This space has evolved into more than just a work site.  School Grounds is a place where people enjoy a few minutes of conversation and coffee with students, fellow co-workers or people with whom they might not have a chance to see during the day. As a result, students and staff connect in organic ways that promote positive interaction and the development of relationships. 

What keeps them coming back every day?  For some, it’s the ease of having a quality product offered at convenience.  For others, it’s the win-win of getting a caffeine fix, while supporting students in the process of gaining valuable job-skills.  Rabbi Brill, JCFS TDS educator and classroom aide shared why he is a daily supporter. “I like the coffee and all the opportunities it provides the students to learn multiple skills: people skills, machinery skills, and money skills.  Above all, the greatest part of this is that the students are outside of the classroom while learning at the same time.”  Rabbi Brill also shared his observations about the community environment School Grounds has generated. “There is a community here, a happy one.  The students are here running this program, which provides staff a feeling of excitement and pride.”  

New to School Grounds this year, High School student Gabriel sets a relaxing tone twice a week by sharing his amazing musical talents.  He sings and plays the ukulele.  Carrie Patterson, Work Development and Employment Specialist, continues to oversee the development of this program.  School Grounds is just one of the work opportunities within our Transition and Vocational Program.  Look out for more updates regarding this program.