Our History

Our History

3 Cups of Coffee grew out of a simple idea: The way to a great job is through professional connections.

Pennsylvania Women Work has been a leading workforce development organization that is dedicated to helping women find employment for over 20 years. Our programs have provided women with the skills and tools needed to land a job and achieve economic independence.

3 Cups of Coffee was created out of the need to help graduates of our New Choices career development program find employment.  One of the major challenges women were facing after they graduated from our programs was a lack of professional connections. They had the skills, the resume, and the self-confidence, but they weren’t given an opportunity. Why?

The reason was clear — the majority of our clients had been out of the workforce for a number of years and they didn’t have a professional network. Research has shown that approximately 80 percent of open jobs are in the “hidden” job market.

The concept of 3 Cups of Coffee was fairly simple – pair a client with a mentor in her job sector and help build her professional network. Matched pairs would meet three times at a local coffee house. They would work together to set goals, explore job possibilities and build professional connections.

First, we needed to find a local coffee house that would partner with us on the project. We didn’t want the mentoring teams to meet at someone’s office, but rather on neutral ground. Crazy Mocha generously became our corporate partner and agreed to donate vouchers for coffee and provide a relaxed meeting space.

Then we needed help launching the program and developing the detailed framework to ensure a process was in place to make matches that would lead to success. Mary Ellen Sullivan, our board member and recent PNC Bank retiree, volunteered her time to get the program up and running.

In addition, we couldn’t have started 3 Cups of Coffee without the generous funding we received from the Pittsburgh Foundation. Thank you for giving us our seed money.

We held our first recruiting session for mentors at BNY Mellon in Pittsburgh and received an outpouring of support from employees interested in volunteering. And it didn’t stop there. Since that time, we have had an overwhelming response from professional women wanting to sign up. The reason for this level of interest is simple. Mentoring through 3 Cups of Coffee is easy, it doesn’t require a long time commitment and it’s effective.

Since 2014, 3 Cups of Coffee has served over 300 women and has 140 mentors serving over 60 companies. Plus, mentees placed in new positions through 3 Cups of Coffee are earning above $17 an hour.

From left: Pennsylvania Women Work CEO Julie Marx-Lally, Corporate Advisory Committee member and former client Deana Keenan; Deputy Director Kristin Ioannou; and 3 Cups of Coffee co-founder Mary Ellen Sullivan.