Off the Block
A Social Enterprise of Mentoring Positives
Mentoring Positives created Off the Block as a platform for our youth to develop their skills and talents.
About Off the Block
When Will and Becky Green founded Mentoring Positives in 2004 as a way to serve at-risk Dane County youth, they didn’t have urban agriculture in mind as a means of accomplishing that goal. But an east-side Madison gardening project has become a big part of the Greens’ mentoring program. For six summers, program participants nurtured an acre of tomatoes and peppers to produce a large quantity of salsa to sell to help support the program.
The youth involved branded the product “Off the Block” salsa, because they saw the project as a way to keep them out of trouble in their neighborhood. The name also represented their hopes of getting “off their block” in the Darbo-Worthington Park Neighborhood on Madison’s east side. Currently, our salsa is produced professionally for us by a friend in Door County. We hope to bring our salsa production back to Madison permanently in the upcoming fall or spring.
Off the Block Pizza started as a way to expand our social entrepreneurship venture and bring another great product to market under the Off the Block label. Our pizza recipe was developed by our youth participants, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Extension.
We began offering Off the Block Pizza Internships in the summer of 2016 to provide real-world business and food science experience to our youth participants. In 2020 we were licensed to produce our pizzas at FEED Kitchens in Madison. Our youth are involved in every aspect of making our pizzas. They roll out the dough, they cook the sauce, they assemble and package the frozen pizzas. In August of 2020 we achieved our weekly goal of making 150 pizzas in a week.