WHAT IS ALL SQUARE?
All Square is a craft grilled cheese shop that aims to employ individuals with criminal records who have expressed or demonstrated an interest in furthering his or her future.
While generating a unique array of sweet & savory grilled cheese, this nonprofit will provide capable people with stable employment and ensure that all individuals who want to better their lives have an opportunity to do so.
ALL SQUARE IN THE NEWS
KMSP Channel 9 News: Thank you Maury Glover & KMSP Channel 9 News for featuring All Square! View the full segment here.
Washington Times: "When opened, All Square will hire individuals with criminal records. The name comes from the belief that after paying one’s debt to society, he or she is “All Square." Read the full article here.
Archinect: "During my time at HUD, I was stunned to learn that those with criminal records find it almost impossible to access housing, employment, credit, health care, and a variety of other life fundamentals. In the context of housing, in particular, it became very clear to me that the exclusion of those with criminal records from public and private housing was one of the primary causes of the country’s segregated housing patterns. Having both family and friends with a so-called criminal past and also knowing the disproportionate impact this practice is having on minority populations unearthed something very primal within." Read the full interview here.
Culture Magazine: "The food is a symbol of childhood and home for many, and a sense of homes and belonging is what All Square hopes to make accessible to its employees." Read the full article here.
Southwest Journal: "I see it, it’s crazy, I don’t agree with it, and I think we’re better than this." Read the full article from the Southwest Journal.
The Pioneer Press: All Square's Kickstarter campaign was featured in the "Give Local" column of the Twin Cities' Pioneer Press. Read the full column here.
The Daily News: “I have been working in the public sector for five years and have been both shocked and disheartened to learn that a criminal record — even after one has paid their debts to society — often prevents individuals from accessing the fundamental pillars of life.” Read the full article from the Daily News.
One hundred million people (nearly one in three American adults) have a criminal record. The existence of such a record, regardless of its age, relevance, or accuracy, is preventing people from accessing the fundamental functions of a productive life: employment, housing, credit, and education. Even an arrest that does not result in a conviction can yield lifelong barriers to a stable existence.
Those being released from jails and prisons across the country are being encouraged to capitalize on their so-called clean slate, yet each time they apply for a job or housing, or attempt to access a line of credit, they are denied on the basis of having a criminal past.
This practice of exclusion, sweeping in its effect, yields unprecedented recidivism rates (roughly two-thirds of people return to prison within three years of their release), generates widespread anger and desperation, disproportionately impacts nonwhite communities, all while undermining the notion of rehabilitation and individual merit.
All Square, knowing that Americans with records are our family members, our friends, and our neighbors, grants this subset of Americans direct access to gainful employment in a supportive, captivating environment while working to ensure that the opportunity for educational and professional development is a viable option for all of its employees.
WHAT "ALL SQUARE" STANDS FOR
The name "All Square" refers to the square form of our grilled cheese and, more importantly, it also refers to the idea that those who have paid their debt to society are square with society and free to move forward with a clean slate.
ALL SQUARE'S LOCATION
All Square will be located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The targeted neighborhood is Longfellow given its strong community spirit and collective of small, locally-run businesses.
All Square believes that America is in need of a paradigm shift when it comes to viewing, engaging with, and providing opportunities to individuals with criminal records. All Square embodies this shift by creating an opportunity for all people to come together around a common experience -- exceptional cuisine -- while ensuring that this portion of the population is no longer demonized or dismissed. By employing a subset of the population who is in need of a fair shake and serving grilled cheese, a simple, savory food that everyone loves, All Square will transform the way we interface with one another and ensure that those with criminal records have an equal opportunity to create a vibrant, productive future.
ALL SQUARE: JUST A GRILLED CHEESE SHOP?
Oh hell no! All Square is a community; a family. Though it is, at its core, a gourmet grilled cheese shop, All Square has a long-term vision of providing housing, mental wellness services, mentoring services, expungement services, and professional development services. We envision our space to be a multi-purpose and mutli-dimensional hub that fuels not only bodies but minds, serving the public while creating productive professional pathways for all of its employees.
Recognizing the untapped legal potential of persons with records, All Square also hopes to one day provide those who have meaningfully engaged with our criminal justice system a chance to contribute to its processes. By developing professional pathways to criminal justice work, All Square hopes to wire those who have experienced legal and criminal procedures into a robust network of mentors, classes, and workshops, strengthening the scope of this particular professional discipline.
MEET RICHARD AMOS
Richard Amos, All Square's Executive Advisor, has been and will be fundamentally important to the success of this nonprofit. Richard is a local artist and community leader in Minneapolis who has committed his life to mentoring youth and advocating on behalf of homeless men leaving prison.
Richard was convicted of aggravated robbery in 1989 and released from prison in 1993 where he struggled to secure both a job and a home, all while maintaining full custody of one of his daughters. With help from the community, Richard secured work with St. Stephens Human Services and spent 18 years advocating for the homeless while earning a host of civic awards.
Despite his exceptional work as an upstanding member of the community, Richard’s criminal record came back to haunt him in 2011. After launching an art class for opportunity youth, he tried to bring his class to a local community center but was not allowed to teach given his criminal record. Although his record was over 20 years old and was not relevant to the tasks he was hoping to pursue, Richard was prevented from meaningfully contributing to his community.
In May of 2012, Richard was pardoned by the State of Minnesota in light of his exceptional work and commitment to the citizens of Minneapolis and All Square could not be more honored to have him as a member of its executive team.
SURROUNDED BY EXPERTS
One thing is for certain: All Square is a collaborative effort. It is our belief that there is nothing more important than surrounding ourselves with experts in the restaurant, nonprofit, and criminal justice industries.
By reaching out to and learning from restaurant owners, nonprofit teams, small business owners, wait staff, chefs, accountants, architects, mental health professionals, advocacy groups, criminal justice professionals, and property owners, All Square believes it will position itself for long-term success.
All Square also believes that the true experts in in the realm of criminal records and prisoner reentry are the very people who have records; those who have been incarcerated. Accordingly, All Square has committed to making sure that these experts are not only employees but also members of the All Square Board of Directors and leadership team.
All Square is our space.
We are all inherently connected. All Square believes that we can create the kind of society that we all want to live in through empathy, community, conversation, and space. Your gift is, fundamentally, a gift of empathy, of second-chances, of healing, of humanity. Your gift is also one of skills, education, mentorship and stability. By giving what you can, you are supporting someone’s path toward a chosen—not a limited--future. Additionally, your gift will fuel a warm, open and inviting space that we all can enjoy. Whether All Square becomes your weekly hangout with neighbors and friends or whether you are passing through on a visit—you are giving to a space that is for us all.
Please note: your gift is tax deductible as All Square is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Plus... check out these sweet rewards!
ALL SQUARE'S MENU!
Chef Sarah Master has crafted All Square's initial menu and WOW are we excited! Sarah is a Minnesota born, New Orleans trained chef who placed as a semifinalist in ABC's The Taste and All Square is ecstatic to have her expertise. She has created an array of grilled cheese options in each of the following categories:
Classic Grilled Cheese
Meaty Grilled Cheese
Morning Grilled Cheese
Vegetarian Grilled Cheese
Vegan Grilled Cheese
Dessert Grilled Cheese
Exotic Grilled Cheese
We are currently in the process of finalizing our signature grilled cheese selections and can promise: Sarah has absolutely nailed it. Stay tuned!
All Square also plans to serve soups, salads, and, of course, root beer floats.
WHAT YOUR MONEY WILL GO TOWARDS
Your money will go towards All Square's start-up costs, which include a five-year lease, the spatial build-out of the restaurant, licensing & permit fees, sweat equity overhead, and marketing & labor costs. Any surplus dollars will go to the first year of All Square's operational costs (inventory, labor, & fixed costs).
Again, please note: any gifts given are tax-deductible, as All Square is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization!
JOIN US ON THE ALL SQUARE FUNDRAISING TOUR!
Throughout the Kickstarter campaign, Emily Turner will be throwing All Square Kickstarter parties to discuss the scope of the project and show the All Square Kickstarter video. There will be six parties in the following cities and locations (bring a friend!):
- Thur Sept 8th: Minneapolis, MN - Du Nord Distillery (7:30pm)
- Tue Sept 13th: Wahpeton, ND - Red Door Art Gallery (6:30pm)
- Wed Sept 14th: Fargo, ND - Brews on Broadway (7:00pm)
- Tue Sept 20th: New Orleans, LA - Handsome Willys (6:00pm)
- Wed Sept 21st: Washington, DC - The Colony Club (7:00pm)
- Thur Sept 29th: New York City - The Wheelhouse (7:30pm)
THOUGHTS FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
"All Square is what is needed for citizens returning home from prison. When individuals are released from prison, they desperately need not only a job and a place to live, but they also need a community that will support them as they reintegrate and better themselves.
I was in prison for 28½ years for a crime that I did not commit. While in prison, I worked as a paralegal assisting fellow incarcerated individuals with their legal matters. After I was released in 2011, I was welcomed into a community that helped me with housing, a job, and assistance in furthering my education in paralegal work. All Square’s mission focuses on building a community that will provide the similar support that I received when I was released from prison."
-Calvin Duncan, All Square Board of Directors; Light of Justice Program Director
"When I first met Emily and heard about her vision for All Square, I was so impressed: Impressed at the tremendous need she would be meeting, the often forgotten population she would be working with, and by the brilliant simplicity and effectiveness of her approach.
Through a simple, wholesome, comfort food restaurant, All Square will provide people who have made a mistake, and paid their debt to society, with the skills, opportunity, and confidence to turn their lives around and become productive, contributing members of the community. I am excited and honored to be supporting All Square as it starts serving sandwiches, great and deserving individuals, and our community."
-Paul Minorini, Boys Hope Girls Hope: President & CEO
"I've known Emily ever since I started law school, when I began my final strides of post-incarceration reintegration. Over the years she has probably picked my brain as much as anyone and launching forth with All Square is the culminating action of somebody who truly 'gets it.'
I'm excited to help the staff however I can as ultimately we need opportunities to get started and mentorships to keep it moving. If not for someone paying me not-too-much to scrub chairs and put up tents, I would not have even gotten parole a decade ago. Someone has to take a chance on us, and in return we need to take a chance on them. I'm definitely banking on All Square to be a success, and can't wait to get myself a nice fat grilled cheese sandwich every time I'm in town!"
-Bruce Reilly, J.D., Deputy Director of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE)
"One in four people in the US has a criminal record. It’s a record employers, educators, and more use to define one's character and capabilities—locking countless people from chances to move on and move up. By providing employment and education opportunities to individuals with criminal records, All Square celebrates the grit, smarts, and possibilities shared by so many that others pass by. And it’s not just any education: All Square is readying a new class of JDs. After all, who better to practice law, to write law, to change law and legal practice than people who have lived through it?
From problem to promise, deficit to desired experience, and felony record to future leader—All Square flips narratives as smoothly and beautifully as a buttery grilled cheese."
Emily Baxter, Director of WAAC (We Are All Criminals)
MAJOR SHOUT-OUTS AND THANK YOU'S
All Square is just getting off the ground and there are already so many people and parties to thank. A huge shout out to all who have shown such unwavering support and an extra splash of love to the following:
- The Lowbrow, Minneapolis
- The VOICE Community, Minneapolis
- Breaking Bread Cafe, Minneapolis
- Chef Sarah Master, Minneapolis
- Architect Ashley Banks, New Orleans
- Cinequipt, Minneapolis
- Butter Bakery Cafe, Minnneapolis
- Humble Bagel, New Orleans
- Bruce Reilly (VOTE), New Orleans
- Calvin Duncan (Light of Justice), New Orleans
- Paul Minorini (Boys Hope, Girls Hope), St. Louis
- Haythem Lafhaj, Minneapolis
- Ryan Knoke & Montana Scheff, St. Paul
- Melanie Hoffert (Knotty Nook Lake House), Minneapolis
- Brett Pauly & Joe Dretsch (Redline), Fargo
- James & Jarrod Midboe (Midbros), Minneapolis
- Fargo Brewing Company, Fargo
- Du Nord Distillery, Minneapolis
- The Red Door Art Gallery, Wahpeton
- Murray Sagsveen, Esq., Bismarck
- The Bonnie, New York CIty
- Handsome Willy's, New Orleans
- Chowgirls Killer Catering, Minneapolis
- Jim Walsh, Southwest Journal
Risks and challenges
One of the biggest challenges of All Square stems from the fact that it's central function is that of a restaurant and restaurants are inherently risky. Though the All Square team is keenly aware of this risk, we still believe that the venture remains not only worthwhile but also ripe for success in its ability to generate outstanding cuisine while serving a larger social mission. We believe the collective nature of All Square's inception as well as its ongoing operations will render both a remarkable restaurant and a community staple.
Beyond the inherent risks of running a restaurant is the cash flow required to keep the restaurant both healthy and solvent. As a social enterprise, the All Square team believes the cash flow generated from its exceptional cuisine will only be bolstered by its social mission. Although All Square will need outside funding for its start-up and first year operating costs, we strongly believes in our long-term ability to operate as a profitable and self-sustaining restaurant.
Lastly, the biggest challenge that All Square faces (beyond the two listed above) is to secure a prosperous, viable, and community-supported location. We have our eyes on a few locations in Longfellow but want to make certain, through ample market research, that the location we select will best serve our purpose as a socially driven venture. We also want to make certain that our employees can easily access the restaurant through public transportation and also obtain housing in the area, if possible.
Because the All Square team is committed to collaboration and absolute persistence and resolve, we remain confident that we will overcome each of these risks and challenges.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (42 days)