Local Business Owner Partners with YouthBuild, Puts Participants to Work

Morgan Cooper, owner of Custom Tropical Tikis, trains Khem Salipot, of Riviera Beach YouthBuild.

The owner of Custom Tropical Tikis is helping Riviera Beach YouthBuild by giving program participants on-the-job training as tiki techs.

Morgan Cooper, owner of the Riviera Beach-based business, also is donating a percentage of company sales to the organization that helps young adults ages 18 to 24 work toward their high-school diploma while learning work and social skills.

“I believe in the mantra of giving back to the community, and what goes around comes around,” Cooper said.

Cooper supports YouthBuild’s mission of unleashing the energy of students through work and education. He partnered with the nonprofit to provide job training and is donating a percentage of sales from each custom-built tiki.

On each tiki project, Cooper will hire YouthBuilders to work with him to design it. Depending on the size of the tiki, he could employ three to 10 participants.

“I want my customers to know that not only are they purchasing a locally crafted product from me, but that they are also giving back to the community,” he said.

Custom Tropical Tikis is promoting the new partnership to customers with the goal of increasing sales and, in turn, helping the YouthBuild program financially.

“Some might ask why I would do something like this, and my response to them would be in a form of a question: Isn’t this what community is about?” Cooper said. “It’s everyone supporting each other.  It’s about everyone coming together for a greater cause for the community, local residents supporting a local business and that business supporting a nonprofit organization in need.”

Custom Tropical Tikis has been in business for more than a decade, and its tropical work can be seen at Dockside Sea Grille in Lake Park, McCray’s Backyard Barbeque in Riviera Beach and Malakor Thai Café in West Palm Beach.

“I want to be able to teach the participants a new job skill, with the hopes of maybe, one day, either hiring them as a full-time employee or showing them what’s involved in opening and running a small business,” Cooper said.
“We appreciate and are excited about this new partnership with Custom Tropical Tikis, Mr. Cooper is providing our young adults with another  job training opportunity and a chance for them to learn a new skill which will be beneficial to them for the rest of their lives,” said,

Miguel Rada, YouthBuild’s program director, called Cooper a “trailblazer” for his efforts.

“We hope other small business owners follow his lead and take an active role in engaging local nonprofits,” Rada said.

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