New Avenues INK: For Your Printing and Philanthropy Needs

By Annalise Shorb

Full of ink-stained and hardworking hands, New Avenues INK is a hub for opportunity and building self-confidence. New Avenues for Youth, an organization created to support youth facing housing instability and houselessness, has worked hard to span even farther than just meals and counseling. The organization provides 24/7 services for youth 9-17 years old, from education and housing to employment and job training. New Avenues INK, a social enterprise to mentor and teach at-risk youth, is an offshoot of New Avenues for Youth that provides career and internship opportunities to the youth they serve.
A decade ago, a printing press was donated to New Avenues for Youth, which began the process of starting INK. At first, the press was used in the company’s central office and later moved to a separate space. Around two years later, what started as a small side business began to evolve into a full-scale print shop, outgrowing their original site and moving into the SE Portland location in which they currently reside.
Eventually, the manual press was joined by a second press, followed by a third, fully automated press this past July, which INK invested in with hopes of being able to expand youth programming. This third press increased their capacity from 100-200 shirts a day to 400+ per hour, promising even more possibilities for the program to continue to blossom. However, high production has never been the main goal for the company; rather it’s to create a higher capacity for fostering more opportunities for youth.
The print shop works with 25-40 interns each year, providing 160-hour internships for a $16/hour salary, where interns get critical experience in screen printing, practice quality control and learn about the process of shipping and receiving products. During their time at INK, they get to work on at least one personal project of their choice and are provided opportunities to market, grow the business and learn how the shop functions. Jennie Vinson, director of enterprise at New Avenues for Youth, shares that the internship “has lots of flexibility and is tailored to your ideal experience.”
Nevertheless, working in this industrial environment is a lot of hard, manual work, and interns play a critical role in the company. With few employees, interns are vital to production and daily tasks essential to the organization’s efficiency. However, this hard work is not without the benefits of learning new skills, helping interns get real-life career experience to identify their goals and learning how to be self-sufficient. As Jeremy Burg, business manager of New Avenues INK, shares, “At INK, interns will have a low barrier introduction into the working world, getting experience with soft skills a person would need for any job, from communication to showing up on time.”
Even as an INK internship comes to an end, the support doesn’t stop. Not only are interns provided with on-site experience, but they also get to work with a career coach to identify opportunities for longer-term employment and help find tools to lower the barriers many face when finding suitable and successful employment options. “We have a high percentage of youth who go on to maintain gainful employment after their internship here at INK, as well as many who have gone on to work in the screen printing industry, develop clothing brands and explore a higher education in design and fashion,” states Burg.
The efforts of the organization’s career coaches go above and beyond, showing just how invested INK is in the community, prioritizing people over profit. That being said, INK still works to make a profit, and earnings are given to their non-profit mother company, New Avenues for Youth, to fund the many aids for houseless and at-risk youth.
A company that provides so much support needs some love in return! “I would love folks to know, especially business owners and anyone who needs branded merchandise, that they can trust us to produce the products they need with the same level of care and quality that they would receive elsewhere, while also making a real tangible impact on a youth’s life and reducing the effects the houseless crisis has on our community,” explains Burg. Vinson echoes similar hopes of growing the business and reaching more clientele.
“I would love for people to know that no matter how busy they are, or limited on time or financial resources, working with us is a great way to take what you may already be doing and contribute to ending youth homelessness in Portland,” continues Burg. “We are a great way to take the money an organization would already be spending and invest it back into our community!”
To learn more about New Avenues INK and their services, follow them on Instagram @newavenuesink, and don’t forget to consider them when looking for a company to fulfill your printing needs.

New Avenues INK, a company offering internships to help youth get into the working world. Photo by Jeremy Burg.

New Avenues INK: For Your Printing and Philanthropy Needs

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