The sky's the limit for these women who are baking bread. And now the bakery caught a big break.

What do bread and a path to success for women have in common?

For a group of bakers in New York, the answer is a whole lot.

First, take a minute to feast your eyes on these delicious creations:


YUM! All photos taken by Evan Sung, used with permission from Hot Bread Kitchen.

And these:

Or how about these little pieces of heaven?

Now that you're thinking about delicious, warm bread, let's get to the reason I'm torturing you with baked goodness: Hot Bread Kitchen.

Hot Bread Kitchen's almacén location, where those delicious bread items are sold.

Hot Bread Kitchen is a New York City-based bakery, and so much more... It gives foreign-born and low-income women a real opportunity to build a secure future.

Here's how it works: The bakery raises money for training programs by selling multiethnic breads — like Armenian lavash, Mexican nixtamal tortillas, Moroccan m'smen, Persian flatbreads, and Bangladeshi chapati — that are inspired by the women it serves.

(Even better: They don't use any chemical preservatives, colors, or flavors, and they source locally grown produce and grains. Double win!)

Jessamyn Rodriguez, CEO and founder of Hot Bread Kitchen, explains: "We help women who have skill and passion around the culinary arts become successful in the baking industry."

The delicious byproduct? "A line of multi-ethnic breads that we sell to help pay for a high quality training that includes math, English, and job skills."

Rodriguez told me that they're basically the United Nations of bread! (I love that.)


It might be hard to picture a bakery changing lives. But it has.

Take Altea, for instance. (Name has been changed to protect her privacy.)

Rodriguez shared her story with me: In 2011, Altea's dream came true. She won the green card lottery and migrated from Albania to America. In New York City, Altea found a job as a childcare provider for an Albanian family. But she wasn't making much money and she felt isolated. She wanted more opportunities for her future, but she didn't know how to get them.

A Hot Bread Kitchen graduate told Altea about the paid training program, and she started in 2013. Before long, she was a pro at mixing and shaping dough.

But she still wasn't fluent in English and faced an uphill battle as a result. She didn't let that stop her, though. Altea kept learning and soon was working on the commercial ovens where, Rodriguez said, "her true talents shined. It is one of the most difficult tasks in the bakery."

Altea's full-time position at Hot Bread Kitchen allowed her to earn 35% more money than her previous job, plus she gained healthcare, paid vacations, and other benefits.

In 2014, Altea was offered a full-time position as a shift manager at Hot Bread Kitchen, "earning 35% more than her job in childcare with paid vacations, healthcare, and other benefits," Rodriquez said.

Altea's hard work paid off. Today, she's a lead baker at Hot Bread Kitchen. She trains other bakers on the ovens, all while devoting time and energy outside work to developing her English skills.

"I am thankful for Hot Bread Kitchen for learning how to speak English and to work at a job I love," says Altea.

A baker working in Hot Bread Kitchen.

Graduates of Hot Bread Kitchen's training program work at bakeries all over New York City — "changing the face of a male-dominated industry," says Rodriguez. And, she adds, "We get excited sharing the traditional bread recipes from around the world that many New Yorkers haven't had the opportunity to taste."

Just last month, Hot Bread Kitchen earned a game-changing opportunity: a mentorship with JetBlue airlines.

Called "BlueBud," the JetBlue initiative is designed to foster relationships with environmentally and socially responsible food companies and start-ups.

The goal is for Hot Bread Kitchen to learn how to become a supplier for large commercial companies — like airlines. To accomplish that, JetBlue offers tours of catering centers, speaking and taste-testing opportunities so that JetBlue employees and customers can become familiar with Hot Bread Kitchen. And the bakery will have access to JetBlue so that they can learn everything they need to know about becoming a vendor.

Rodriguez told me that for a growing social enterprise, it's a tremendous opportunity. "We are hopeful that access to JetBlue's audience will allow more people to hear the stories of the women who we train and increase awareness of all of the incredible multiethnic bread offerings that New Yorkers might miss out on if organizations like ours didn't exist," she explains.

For Hot Bread Kitchen, the mentorship opportunity could open so many doors for women just like Altea.


I asked Rodriguez where she hopes her organization will be in five years.

"I see New York City as the proof of concept — we have, over the last five years, proven that there is a market for our mission-driven company," she explained. Now, she wants to replicate the model all across the country. "Our partnership with JetBlue is synonymous with our hope to travel beyond our New York roots to prove that our business can impact the livelihood and prosperity of women in many geographies."

I hope it does just that!

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.