Olive Loves: Sweet Generation Bakes Cupcakes for a Cause

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As Women’s History Month draws to a close, I would like to introduce you to Amy Chasan, the founder and chief do-gooder of Sweet Generation, an online custom bakery. But, Sweet Generation is more than just a bakery! Amy and her team generate funds to increase access to Arts Education for children. In fact, a portion of every sale is donated to Arts Education, so customers are literally Helping With Every Helping! Amy believes that cupcakes and craftiness can save the world. After one look at her artistic cupcakes, I can’t argue with her. She is helping to promote the importance of Arts Education, one delicious cupcake (and warm batch of cookies) at a time.

Olive: How long have you been baking?

Amy: I have always loved to bake. When I was very young, my mom gave me the run of the kitchen and I made concoctions of “interesting” ingredients. I baked them and then wrote out the recipes for my “cookbooks.” Needless to say, not every one was a success! Over the years, I progressed to actually edible recipes and turned out hundreds of meringues, cookies, banana breads, and cakes. But I put away my baking pans as time went on…

Olive: Where did you get the idea for Sweet Generation?

Amy: My lifelong interest in Art led me to build my professional career around Art and Education. I saw massive barriers due to the insufficient funding for Arts organizations and schools. When working for the NYC Dept of Youth & Community Development, I was able to support and develop some wonderful Arts organizations, but funding remained a challenge and every year budgets were cut significantly. As my work became more challenging, I returned to baking as my own personal creative outlet. Before I knew it, I was being hired to cater weddings, music release parties, art events and private parties. I began to think about how I could connect my creative outlet with my education and professional career.  Answering this question led me to develop Sweet Generation.

We have always known…and now it is proven… that Arts education improves overall educational achievement and social development.  But funding for Arts Education is infamously unstable, inadequate and disappearing. To fill the gap, Arts organizations and schools often run small-scale fundraising events like bake sales, expending a lot of effort, with a limited audience and low return.  I began to realize that I could move the concept of the bake sale to a national audience with an online bakeshop and fundraising partners. This idea became Sweet Generation, which brings community-based Arts fundraising to a national online consumer market by leveraging the universal love of sweets and the urge to do good.

Strawberry Malted Milkshake – Malted Milk Cupcakes filled with Fresh Strawberries topped with a Strawberry Malted Milk Buttercream Frosting garnished with a Fresh Strawberry and a Strawberry Malted Milk Ball.

Olive: What is your background?

I am an artist, educator, baker and businesswoman, with a lifelong interest in the power of the Arts in raising achievement. At Colorado College, I designed my undergraduate major, “Art, Education, and Society,” studying the power of Arts Education in removing social class barriers and raising academic and life achievement.

After teaching Art and Dance, I became a Program Director for the BELL Foundation (Building Educated Leaders for Life) in my hometown, Boston. I moved to Astoria almost four years ago to work for the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, overseeing 30+ programs and managing $8M+ in city funding serving low-income communities with Out-of-School-Time academic and arts enrichment. I am currently a graduate student at The New School for Public Engagement, working toward my M.S. in Nonprofit Management with a specialization in Social Entrepreneurship.

I’ve always had a strong creative drive, and this led me to begin my part-time cupcake business. I left my job with DYCD in August to pursue Sweet Generation full time, and it’s so exciting to be able to bring my skills, experience, network and passion together to create my dream.

Olive: Congratulations on winning the New School Challenge! Can you tell us more about the competition?

Amy: Thanks!! I am so totally and completely thrilled.  It is such a huge milestone as a new start-up to have an institution like The New School validate and invest in my idea.  So, the New Challenge is The New School’s Social Innovation competition — its purpose is to give students the chance to develop socially innovative ideas and produce tangible real-world projects, products, organizations, and the like, aimed at solving problems in their communities.  Projects go through a rigorous evaluation process and numerous rounds, including a community vote, a full proposal and budget and a pitch competition.  There were initially about 100 applications, then 21 semi-finalists, and in the end there were 7 winners, and Sweet Generation was one!

Olive: That’s really incredible! Are you a one-woman baking machine or do you have a team of people who work for Sweet Generation?

Amy: Right now there is myself, another baker, three graduate student consultants from The New School, a couple per-diem brand ambassadors, and an amazing Board of Advisors. We are also in the process of hiring two interns. We are based in Astoria/Long Island City, but we do not have a storefront. We deliver our baked goods to the five boroughs, as well as Long Island and New Jersey, and in the next month or so we will be shipping!

Olive: Add me to your mailing list! How many cupcakes do you bake in a typical day?

Amy: It really depends on the season, the holidays, and big events happening in the city (like Fashion Week!). Last week, we baked about 1,500 cupcakes.  Because we are a custom bakery, we created a new flavor in honor of you!  It’s a Lemon Olive Oil cupcake topped with a Sweet Rosemary Cream Cheese frosting. It’s super delicious and we think it’s a really fun and unique flavor for a sweet treat!

Lemon Olive Oil Cupcake topped with a Sweet Rosemary Cream Cheese Frosting garnished with Lemon Zest and Fresh Rosemary

Olive: You shouldn’t have…but I’m glad you did! I’m so honored. I’ve never inspired my own cupcake creation before! I’m going to have to taste it. How can I and other readers order from Sweet Generation?

Amy: You can place an order by visiting our (just launched!) website: www.SweetGeneration.org or emailing us at info@SweetGeneration.org.  We accept Paypal payments and we deliver all over NYC and surrounding areas. No shipping yet, but we are getting there!

o Rose Gold – Rosewater Infused Cupcake topped with a Rose Gold Buttercream Frosting garnished with White Chocolate Leaves.

Olive: Now that you have won the New School Challenge, what are your plans?

Amy: As a winner of the New Challenge, we are thrilled to now begin the process of building out our online bakeshop to become a fundraising platform where customers will be able to select a specific Arts Education campaign to support with their purchase.  Until then, we are actively raising funds and baking our butts off to make this dream come true!  About 15% of net proceeds are being donated to local Arts Education programs right now, and we plan to increase that percent once we are shipping and our fundraising platform is live.

About Amy Chasan

Amy Chasan is the founder and chief do-gooder of Sweet Generation, an online custom bakery that increases access to arts education for children nationwide by providing an alternative fundraising platform for Arts organizations and schools.  Her previous lives include: Art teacher, Dance instructor, card-carrying NYC government worker (education administrator), and a cupcake business started in her little kitchen in Queens.

 

 

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