Hope Forward is a creative new approach to funding a college education, so what could be more appropriate than finding a creative way of helping make the initiative a reality?

Dan ’09 and Kara Dornbusch ’12 Guy, owners of the Espresso Bay coffee shop in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, have done just that by creating the “Hope Forward Blend.”

“We were in Holland and had the chance to meet with President Scogin in his office,” Dan Guy recalled. “We wanted a way to get involved and help support it. The best way we could do that was to do another type of coffee. All the proceeds from the sales go to the Hope Forward fund.”

“It’s actually my favorite blend of beans, a medium roast,” he said.

An example of the familiar maxim to think globally and act locally, Hope Forward is addressing the national higher education crisis — the problem of ever-increasing tuition that creates barriers to access and forces graduates to chase income to pay off student-loan debt rather than pursue impact — by seeking to fully fund Hope students’ tuition up-front. It’s a generosity-based model that will ask graduates to voluntarily provide financial support to the college to provide for future students the same gift of a transformative education that they received because of others. To get there, Hope is engaged in a major effort to increase the endowment to meet the initial cost, with subsequent support meeting future need.

“Hope’s a really special place for both of us,” Dan said. “We really had a positive experience there. It’s just some little way that we can stay connected and help support the future generations hoping to go and get a good Christian education.”

It was easy for the Guys to choose to become part of the effort. At the most fundamental level, they owe their relationship to Hope: They met in the summer of 2008 during one of the regional picnics organized by the college for incoming students as Kara was about to begin her freshman year. More, though, they appreciate the education that they received and want to provide the same for future generations.

Espresso Bay is a family business. Kara’s parents started it in 2003 and ran it for a number of years before passing the reins to Kara and Dan in 2013. Dan, who was in marketing with another company following graduation, now manages the shop full-time, with Kara additionally continuing in her career as a nurse-practitioner.

“You get to meet a lot of fun people,” Dan said. “We get visitors from all over the world, especially in the summer. It’s fun.”

Becoming among those visitors is one way to experience the “Hope Forward Blend” (Espresso Bay is located at 202 E. Front Street in Traverse City, at the intersection with Cass Street near Clinch Park Beach and the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay), but it’s not the only way. The shop also includes the blend among the variety of coffees that customers may order through its website at espressobay.com and have shipped to them.

In addition to transforming the future for Hope students through Hope Forward, the college is taking the lead in fostering a larger conversation in higher education about helping students and society by transforming the tuition-driven business model. In the same way, Dan and Kara Guy hope that other alumni and friends of the college might find their own unique ways to support Hope Forward.

“We’re hoping that other alumni might see this article and say, ‘Hey — I can do something little to make a difference’ with the products that they make,” Dan said. “If we all do a little bit to add to the fund, we’ll get to the goal eventually.”

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  1. Such a terrific idea! How much is given back to Hope when purchasing Hope Forward coffee? Is it for sale in the Hope Bookstore?

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