CUPs: More than just a coffee shop

Courtesy of Baltimore Sun

Holly Gray and husband Brian (right) Courtesy of Baltimore Sun

Imagine if there was a coffee shop in one of Baltimore’s disinvested neighborhoods, that took at-risk youth and gave them an opportunity to hold a steady, responsible job with onsite training in money management and life skills…

Well, there is such a place and it’s called CUPs (Creating Unlimited Possibilities). Situated in the once-booming Hollins Market neighborhood, CUPs serves a surplus of thirsty, caffeine-deficient locals and students, while also providing jobs for the kids in the community, mostly underprivileged youth with troubled pasts. The director and founder, Holly Gray, was once a store sales manager for the retailer, New York and Co. and when the economy tanked, decided she’d head back to school. Written up as a business plan for her Interdisciplinary major at University of Baltimore, CUPs evolved from a simple school project to a successful non-profit, workforce development social enterprise

Having just celebrated its one year anniversary, CUPs has exceeded expectations, according to Gray. With help from her husband, Gray has created quite a buzz in the Baltimore community with a formula that serves a strong social justice mission.

This Saturday from 11AM to 2PM, CUPs will hold its annual fundraiser breakfast and auction, COFFE & A CAUSE at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Student Center on Lombard St. For just $28 you get a full brunch with coffee and cocktails, while enjoying live music by Karter Jaymes. Throughout the event there will be a silent auction, all proceeds going to CUPs, of course. Head to for more info on the event.

If you want to read more about CUPs mission, head to their website,

– TD

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