Where Community Means Everyone

aka Purple Tree Café   |   Davis, CA   |

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GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 45-4564716


Purple Tree Café creates community-based employment for people with disabilities and brings people with and without disabilities together through food, art, and music. We presently offer handcrafted vegan and wheat-free baked goods and organic iced tea and other beverages at the Davis Farmers Market and other public and private events. We also sponsor music events featuring performers with and without disabilities. We plan to continue to expand opportunities to provide employment, food, fun, and a welcoming space for all — where community truly means everyone.

Ruling year info


Board Chair

Pamela Cohen J.D.

Main address

140 B Street, Suite 5-233

Davis, CA 95616 USA

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Subject area info

Job training

Independent living for people with disabilities

Population served info


People with disabilities

NTEE code info

Employment Training (J22)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Tax forms


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our mission is a direct response to the challenges that people with disabilities often encounter in finding and maintaining meaningful employment. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2022 shows the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is twice as high as for those without a disability. Among those who want to work, the unemployment rate is about three times as high. California is in the bottom half of the states in this regard. For disabled Californians, the employment rate in 2022 was only 23.1%. For these reasons, the State’s policy for people with disabilities is “Employment First.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Employment and Training for People With Disabilities

Purple Tree Café is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates community-based employment for people with disabilities and brings people with and without disabilities together through food, art, and music. We offer handcrafted vegan and wheat-free baked goods, organic iced tea, and other beverages at the Davis Farmer's Market. We plan to start serving from our new location at the UC Davis MIND Institute cafe in Sacramento in early 2024.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

As part of the City of Davis’ monthly ArtAbout event, Purple Tree hosts public, disability-friendly "Hootenanny" performances in downtown Davis using music to promote inclusion. These events include known local musicians with and without disabilities and feature an “open mic” session and dancing. The Team Davis Singers, a disability-inclusive group led by Purple Tree’s founder, Pamela Cohen, perform at every Hootenanny. Purple Tree products are sold at Hootenannies, and we perform outreach about our work to attendees, spectators, and passerbys.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants engaged in programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Employment and Training for People With Disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

People with disabilities employed by Purple Tree

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Purple Tree Café creates community-based employment for people with disabilities and brings people with and without disabilities together through food, art, and music. Our primary goal it provide meaningful, competitive, integrated employment to people with disabilities. We provide a supportive, fun work environment that encourages our employees to succeed, helps them develop solid work history, and provides on-the-job training that yields skills that are transferrable to a wide range of jobs in food service, sales, and customer service.

Our mission also addresses larger issues about inclusion. Even if employed, people with disabilities often face social ostracism, isolation and physical and emotional challenges. By giving our employees public exposure and opportunities to show skills beyond their jobs, and by our own example, we show larger possibilities to the public.

Our cafe model is ideal for employees with disabilities. Social interaction is encouraged, and the typical customer/clerk interactions are sufficiently structured and predictable enough to provide scaffolding for further interactions. People with disabilities often need part-time work schedules, and café work easily allows for that. Café work also includes both "hard" skills like baking and customer service, and "soft" skills like attendance and working with colleagues. Baking is particularly well-suited for employees with disabilities because complex processes can be broken into steps for learning, and the results of the workers’ decisions are evident quickly. And the skills learned by the employees are marketable for further employment in many areas of food service.

Our cafe model is easily replicable or transposable to different locations too. While Purple Tree has, since 2016, sold its products out of its coffee cart or a booth/stall at public events like the Davis Farmers Market, employees could easily perform the same work at a brick-and-mortar store, which has always been the organization’s primary goal. Our employees already bake and package all of our products in a certified commercial kitchen at the Davis Community Church. We could transport these products to other locations or set up similar operations in any commercial kitchen with similar equipment.

In October 2023, our Board entered into an agreement with the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento to operate such a brick-and-mortar cafein their building in Sacramento, near the UCD medical campus, starting in early 2024, with significant in-kind support from MIND. We are excited to open our (physical) doors to new customers across the Davis-Sacramento causeway in the next few months, employing more people with disabilities and growing the Purple Tree Brand as a result. We are confident this opportunity will serve as an effective demonstration of the replicability and sustainability of our cafe model that will lead to future funding opportunities for Purple Tree.

> Purple Tree has a Board of Directors of 4 persons with broad experience in nonprofit operations, grants management, business, academia, law, food service, and the disability community. The Board members are active volunteer participants in daily operations and fundraising, as well as in policy decisions.
> Purple Tree has an experienced staff, consisting of both a Executive Director and Operations Manager, who jointly oversee the financial and physical operations of the organization under the supervision of the Board of Directors.
> Purple Tree has many part-time employees, most of which are people with disabilities, who prepare, package, and sell our products at our locations in Davis and Sacramento.
> Purple Tree collaborates with a wide range of local businesses for in-kind donations and corporate sponsorships as well as other nonprofits for operating support.
> Purple Tree owns a bicycle-powered full-featured coffee cart. We also have adequate equipment and transportation to serve our products at special events across Yolo and Sacramento counties.
> For baking, we have access to a certified kitchen at the Davis Community Church.
> Purple Tree has a license agreement with the UC Davis MIND Institute to operate a brick-and-mortar cafe in their building in Sacramento from Monday through Friday, to open in early 2024.
> Purple Tree has a website (, Facebook page (, and Instagram account (
> We have multiple volunteers who assist us with developing content for social media, newsletters, and fundraising appeals.
> Through grants, individual donations, corporate sponsorships, and special events, we are building our capacity for fundraising.

We developed an innovative business model through the skills and experience of our management team and valuable community partnerships, which include:
--Davis Community Church, which donates storage space and kitchen facilities;
--the nationally-ranked Davis Farmers Market;
--the UC Davis MIND Institute, which will provide us with a brick-and-mortar location in their building in Sacramento as well as significant in-kind support so we can sell our products to MIND employees and the general public Mondays through Fridays there starting in early 2024.
--Progressive Employment Concepts and its Davis branch, Community and Employment Services, which provide employment support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,
--Sacramento SCORE, which has mentored us on small business development; and
--Perkins Coie, LLP, which has provided us with legal services on a pro bono basis.

> We established and completed all necessary government filings to maintain the organization as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
> We carried out fundraising activities, including a benefit concert in April 2019, a monthly donation club, Big Day of Giving, Giving Tuesday, and restaurant-based fundraisers.
> We secured the necessary business license, insurance and health permit.
>We used the cart for several public markets and events, including the Davis Farmers Market, the City of Davis' monthly ArtAbout event, and at the Davis Craft & Vintage Fair.
> We have provided more than 600 hours of employment for people with disabilities. We started with three employees and now have 17.
> We conduct a monthly series of disability-include music events, called "Hootenanies," at the Delta of Venus cafe in Davis to create shared experiences for people with and without disabilities.
> We have produced or co-produced short videos about Purple Tree Cafe and about biking in Davis
> During the pandemic, without market or other public events, we have developed our wholesale, catering, and delivery services.
> We consistently receive grants from charitable foundations who support our work.
> We have received media coverage in local papers and on local radio.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Board Chair

Pamela Cohen J.D.

Pam is an attorney with more than thirty years of experience representing people with disabilities. She is currently a Senior Attorney Mediator at California's civil rights agency, the department of Fair Employment and Housing. Pam cofounded Purple Tree Café in the spirit of her legal advocacy to help people with disabilities live independently and make meaningful contributions to their communities. In that same spirit, she also volunteers as coleader of the Team Davis Singers, a disability-inclusive singing group that participates in Purple Tree's monthly Hootenanny music events. She was Purple Tree's first Executive Director and moved to the Board of Directors in 2023. She earned her B.A. from Vassar College and a law degree from Columbia University.


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 11/02/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Ms. Pamela Cohen

CA Department of Fair Employment & Housing

Term: 2023 -

Jai Patel

San Francisco Foundation

Elaina DaLomba

U.S. Army Baylor Doctor of Science in Occupational Therapy Program

Jesus Mata

Everyday Impact Consulting

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No