If coffee is your biggest basic food group, you’re probably a college student. If you’re a college student at UCR, your habit is now supporting at-risk foster youth on campus.
UCR residential dining halls Aberdeen-Inverness and Lothian are now brewing the blends of Mammoth Coffee, a three-year-old business owned by alumnus Steve Shatkin ‘89 and his wife, Tracie. The duo have been supporting Guardian Scholars since 2016, around the same time Steve started roasting beans in his garage.
A life-time alumni association member and frequent speaker on campus, Shatkin, who owns Tortoise Industries, a design manufacturing business in Los Angeles, remains heavily involved with UCR. In 2014, his daughter enrolled, bringing him out to campus more frequently. Shatkin was eventually introduced to Tuppett Yates, UCR professor of psychology and executive director of Guardian Scholars.
“The second we met, we knew we were like-minded,” Shatkin said. “She was just as crazy as we are and high energy.”
Beginning with four students who were provided $500 scholarships during the 2008-09 academic year, the Guardian Scholars Program now provides scholarship support of up to $5,000 a year to 30 students. It has extended its reach to serve the nearly 150 current and former foster youth on campus through the broader Office of Foster Youth Support Services.
The funds raised by Mammoth coffee sales at UCR will go to directly to student support, such as housing, food, medical, and other scholarship for basic living and educational needs.
“Our kids are 100 percent first-generation, 100 percent low-income, and 90 percent ethnic/racial minority.” Yates said. “I think there is no student population that better embodies the mission of our campus.”
Guardian Scholars is primarily funded by private donors and foundations, and now, fair-trade coffee that carries the label of UTZ and Rainforest Alliance Certified, meaning that all of Mammoth’s Columbian beans are sourced through sustainable land use and responsible business practices.
Shatkin’s home roaster can’t keep up with order demands anymore (sometimes thousands of pounds of coffee a month) but he and Tracie have found a local company that will roast their beans per Mammoth specifications.
“Being the science geek that I am, I have the coffee roaster hooked up to my computer with a special program that allows me to monitor all the various parameters of the roasting process, about six or seven different variables,” said Shatkin, who was a research and development chemist for many years after receiving his bachelor’s in psychobiology with a minor in neuroscience from UCR.
The Shatkins also give the Guardian Scholars experiences; everything from barbecues and Thanksgiving celebrations at their home, to sponsoring a weekend getaway in Mammoth, the most popular excursion to date for the scholars according to Yates. “For most of the kids, it was the first-time seeing snow,” Yates said.
In the works for the Guardian Scholars is a Mammoth Coffee Cart they will take out on a loan from the Shatkins, who will mentor and train the scholars in purchasing, accounting, and other business knowledge the couple has gleaned from managing a 20,000 square-foot, 40-employee, multi-million-dollar business for the last 20 years. The scholars will be able to operate the cart around campus and in the community.
“I feel the best way to help an organization is to create a self-sustaining financial entity that they can draw from,” Shatkin said.
In the meantime, the medium and dark Colombian roasts being served at the dining halls are a hit among UCR students, many of whom have requested a decaf Mammoth option.
“The great thing about offering Mammoth Coffee is that it also connects us to the past through Steve as well as our future with the Guardian Scholars donation,” said David Henry, executive director of Housing, Dining & Hospitality Services. “Mammoth is the perfect addition to our residential restaurants and we salute Steve and Tracie for building a tremendous company with UCR philanthropy at the core of our partnership.”
Residential Dining Hours:
7:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
(dinner) 5–8:30 p.m.
7:15 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Saturday (brunch) 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
(dinner) 5–8 p.m.
* RESIDENTIAL RESTAURANTS CLOSE AT 8 P.M. ON FRIDAY NIGHTS