The Columbus Dispatch
By Erica Thompson
September 6, 2019
It pays to do good.
Just ask anyone at Wild Tiger Tees, a social enterprise that strives to improve the lives of youths in need.
The T-shirt company partners with Star House, a 24-hour drop-in center near the University District for young people ages 14 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness. The center, which served 1,500 teens and young adults last year, offers access to food and other necessities, as well as counseling and connection to government resources, CEO Ann Bischoff said.
Through Star Works, its workforce development program, young people can sign up to work 2½-hour shifts with Wild Tiger Tees, printing customized T-shirts in an on-site art room. The pay is $10 per hour, and 50 percent of the proceeds from T-shirt sales go back to Star Works.
“I’d been wanting to start something that had more of an impact for a long time,” said Adam Morris, head of operations and one of five founders of Wild Tiger Tees, which opened in 2018 with funding from social enterprise launchpad, GiveBackHack.
“The Star House really struck me,” Morris continued. ”(There are) people that I could help in terms of mentoring, people who have aged out of foster care, people in abusive situations. ... I’ve had tough times in my life where my parents have helped me out. I would have not been in a good place if it wasn’t for my parents just being there to support me, and they don’t have that.”
Bischoff said a survey of Star House youth provided insight into the problems many face in the job market.
“We see a pattern where, after being with us for three or months, 85 percent of youth are obtaining employment, which is great ... but then keeping those jobs while they’re homeless is a challenge,” she said. “And so Star Works was born to address that issue. ... They have the opportunity to work flexibly and gain professional development for themselves.”