There’s a new club getting ready to open up in Boulder. It will be a cafe exclusively for Boulder county high school teens to hang out, study, and relax. It’s a project that has been about 6 years in the making according to founder Mark Megibow. He has been working with high school teens in Boulder for ten years and it became increasingly clear to him that there was nothing for them to do at night. So he decided to open a place for them.
“We looked around to see what worked and what didn’t. We quickly learned that most didn’t. We set out to find out why, and then built our concept from there.” – Mark Megibow
The most unique aspect of The Loft is they have written a sustainable business plan for the teen cafe. An extensive amount of thought and research has gone into its financial structure. “It won’t demand continuous fund-raising and grant-writing year after year. We’re asking for help with our start-up funds, and then our ‘dual-use space’ business model will allow us to stay financially viable,” says Megibow. The Loft is primarily targeted to high school teenagers, but during the mornings they will be in school. This allows for additional programming such as “Moxie Mornings @ The Loft,” a cafe and playroom for families of young children. The Loft is partnering with Moxie Moms to fill the calendar with play dates, “mommy and me” style arts programs and activities, as well as parenting classes. This ability to offer other programs in the mornings will be one of the keys to achieving long-term sustainability.
Teen input has been a central principle behind The Loft and started when it was just a concept. Megibow and team are constantly polling high school teens to make sure The Loft is exactly what they want. They have put together a Programming Board made up entirely of volunteer teens, an effort that will keep the Loft current on the latest trends. The club will be “teen organized and adult managed.” The teens will handle the operations of the club while the adults will handle the books and safety and to ensure the overall venture is a success. The appeal to recruiting a small army of teen volunteers is that they will have a direct say in everything from the music to the menu to organizing special events. In return, The Loft will provide a safe place for the teens to socialize without the focus on buying stuff. It will also provide high school students an opportunity to gain some valuable leadership experience before heading off to college and beyond.
“The Loft is not a program, it is a space. There are a large number of successful teen programs in Boulder County doing amazing work, and we want to be sure they know The Loft belongs to them too.” – Mark Megibow
The Loft is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2010, in the Twenty Ninth Street District. The Loft is currently seeking donations to finalize start up expenses. All donations are tax-deductible and more information can be found on their website, http://www.theloftboulder.com.