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Blue Sky Basks in Sun Shine Award

By Patty Wetli | Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lisa Thompson, excecutive director of Blue Sky Inn, is celebrating a recent grand award. Credit: Patty Wetli.

Christmas came early for Blue Sky Bakery and Cafe, 3720 N. Lincoln Ave., which is basking in a grant award from the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust’s Sun Shine Project.

A winner in the Youth Social Service and Civic Affairs category, Blue Sky will receive $5,000 from the Sun-Times, no small chunk of change in an increasingly challenging grant environment.

“Grants are more competitive than ever, and we still rely on them for about 43 percent of our operating income,” says Lisa Thompson, founder and executive director of Blue Sky, which provides at-risk, homeless youth with basic job training skills through work at the bakery.

Given the uncertainty of outside funding, Thompson’s ultimate goal is for Blue Sky’s bakery operation to become nearly self-sustaining. “Our three-year strategic plan has set goals to increase our earned income each year by about 30 percent, and decrease our grant income by about 18 percent each year,” she says. “We’ll probably always require some donations to cover the expenses associated with our job training program, but we’re hoping to shift the balance from philanthropy to bakery sales.”

If you have yet to visit Blue Sky, the bakery recently announced a special offering guaranteed to take the chill off the coldest winter day. On Wednesdays, the cafe will remain open until 8:00 p.m. for S.B.P.: soup, bread and pie. For just $9, diners receive a bowl of soup, hunk of freshly-baked bread and slice of pie. A recent menu featured spicy black bean soup, rosemary corn bread and banana cream pie; Thompson promises a vegetarian option will always be available. S.B.P. is also BYOB, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Trader Joe’s located right across the street. Check Blue Sky’s Facebook page, Twitter account or call 773. 880.9910 to see what’s cooking.

S.B.P. will run at least through January, or possibly longer depending on demand.

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