Transition Perks, a coffee shop at 1062 Hillgrove Ave, Western Springs, is opening Friday, November 14, at 7:30am, but this is no ordinary coffee shop. Transition Perks is run by students in Lyons Township High School’s Transition Program, a program designed to help students, ages 18-22, learn valuable skills for the everyday demands of independent adult living. The coffee shop will allow for an authentic setting, where students will practice vocational skills, focusing on social interactions, communication, money, inventory and marketing – all of which are transferable when they apply for competitive, paying jobs.

Transition Perks will be open 7:30-10:30am each school day. The proceeds from coffee shop sales will be used to fund scholarships, vocational training programs and future student-operated micro-businesses. Additionally, students will be selling private label Transition Perks coffee cans to assist with future endeavors. Professional grade coffee machines were donated by Bunn and Stewart’s coffee, and Fl%u016Dr bakery’s gluten-free goods will also be sold.
The storefront is home to Tropical Sno, a summertime business run by St. Ambrose University student Nicholas Cozzi, whose brother is a Transition Program student and who is allowing LT to use the store rent-free.
Last month, Transition Program students filled out applications for both coffee and janitorial crews. Job interviews were held in and the crews were established. Students have been busy delivering flyers to neighbors, commuters and local store owners.
The Transition Perks concept began four years ago with LT’s severe and profound Transition Program students at the school’s South Campus. Students take orders, brew cups of coffee and deliver them to staff for a nominal fee. Students gain measurable skills in counting, making change, speaking and listening. Expanding the program to an authentic learning setting with nearly 45 more students will help even more students become as independent as possible.

Transition Program Vocational Coordinator Dave Paske is overwhelmed at the support received from all involved. “Everyone from the health inspector to coffee distributors has been more than helpful. They’ve been excited to be involved in such a worthwhile project. I’m hopeful local commuters and the LT community will visit Transition Perks for more than just a cup of coffee.”