Tax Exempt, Why Yes We Are! December 21 2014

Yesterday after returning from the mailbox, one letter made me sing and dance a new song. We received a friendly letter from the IRS. (Compared to the usual unfriendly annoying letters from the IRS we receive) This letter started with these words:

We're pleased to tell you we determined you're exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3)...

It sparked a spontaneous dance and original song that I'm sure Ayaka and Elizabeth are glad will never leave the privacy of our home.

We started this journey 2 years ago when I decided to quit my job at BloomReach and invest the majority of our time to test the theory that marginalized communities needed people focused on creating jobs. We liquidated most of my savings (~$60,000) and figured that this would give us about 6 months to test this theory by covering our personal expenses and capital to pour into the business concepts. We found an amazing partner in SF City Impact and they introduced us to our co-founder Amanda Phelps and thus TLMade was born!

After 18 months, 4 social enterprises (TLMade, TLClean, TLMunch, TLThrift), and overwhelming support from local non-profits in the Tenderloin, San Francisco Economic Development and Tenderloin Economic Development Projects, we decided it was time to take the next step.

The vision for job creation had to be explored in a second community in need. East Palo Alto was on our hearts. Although no longer the US murder capital, East Palo Alto is plagued with generational poverty, a poor education system, and major economic challenges. After two fundraising events we are ready to start our first two businesses, EPAMade and EPAShop. The last step was getting official non-profit and tax exempt status.

We've completed this milestone which solidifies the foundation for the start of our venture into East Palo Alto. I do hope you join with us on this journey!

- Allen Lu