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New Social Entrepreneurship Program to Connect Students and Formerly Homeless Adults

by | Jan 20, 2018 | News

Depaul USA, a national homeless services organization, and students at William Penn Charter School, an independent school in the East Falls neighborhood, announce an exciting new project to produce local, vegan soaps. The Rays of Hope project is staffed by residents of St. Raymond’s House, a permanent supportive housing program in East Mount Airy for formerly homeless men and women with disabilities. Rays of Hope produces vegan-friendly, vegetable glycerin soaps with recipes researched by students from Penn Charter. The first market for the soaps will be at Germantown Espresso Bar, a new coffee shop located at 26 Maplewood Mall, Philadelphia, PA, 19144 beginning on January 8, 2018. Each bar sells for $6 and 100% of the profit benefits Depaul USA’s effort to provide dignified housing to our most vulnerable neighbors.

To date, the students and program residents have worked together throughout December 2017 to create marketing strategies, pricing and product development. Residents report that they enjoy the enthusiasm that the students bring to the work. One participant, Leonard says, “I look forward to working with the Penn Charter kids. It’s amazing how quickly they come up with creative names for the soaps and how upbeat they are so early in the morning. It’s infectious.” St. Raymond’s House residents also enjoy sharing their knowledge with the students. The residents and students talk about their lives while they work alongside each other. Besides offering a creative outlet, resident participants in the project will earn a profit share from the sale of the soaps. Sam, another resident says, “My favorite part is feeling like I’ve accomplished something.”

Germantown Espresso Bar is a coffee shop and community space on Maplewood Mall in Germantown. Miles Butler, who cofounded the space in 2017, says, “It was a natural fit for us to offer Rays of Hope’s products at the coffee shop. We support local artists and makers and we aim to bring the community together and we think that the collaboration of Depaul USA and Penn Charter shares that same spirit.”

Depaul USA, located at East Chelten Avenue and Sprague Street in Germantown, also operates Immaculate Cleaning Services, a for-profit social entrepreneurship program that offers employment for homeless and formerly homeless men and women, and uses the profits to fund its Philadelphia programs. St. Raymond’s House in East Mount Airy provides time-unlimited housing services to 27 disable men and women with long histories of homelessness. The program operates from a holistic and trauma-informed lens that focuses on community integration for residents.

Depaul USA believes that everyone should have a home and a place in the community.  In 6 cities across the US, Depaul USA helps homeless men and women to realize their potential through a diverse array of services.  For more information, visit

For questions, please call Sandra Guillory at 215-438-3991 ext. 10.

Contact:           Sandra Guillory


Cell Phone:      215-620-6366



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