Non-Profit Partnerships With The Service Industry Are Building A Skilled Workforce

Non-Profit Partnerships With The Service Industry Are Building A Skilled Workforce


The service sector provides more entry-level jobs than any other industry in America, supporting 30 million restaurant and retail employees. Across the country, non-profit organizations that are committed to helping people gain first-time employment or pursue a new beginning are increasingly turning to partnerships with the service industry to achieve their philanthropic missions. Path Forward is focused on showcasing the goals and successes of these partnerships, telling the story of how they help to transform the lives of individuals, train and upskill area workforces, and contribute to stronger, more stable communities.

A Community Partnership: Focus Points Family Resource Center & Comal Restaurant

Comal, a Mexican restaurant in Denver, Colorado, is a not only an eatery, but a training ground for women looking to get involved in the restaurant industry. Partnering with the non-profit Focus Points Family Resource Center, Comal provides aspiring restaurateurs with the opportunity to gain real world experience, on-the-job training and language skills. Together, Focus Points and Comal are working to empower entrepreneurs in the community and build skills that will allow employees to continue their careers in the industry and open their own restaurants someday.

Silvia Hernandez looks forward to opening her own restaurant one day, but right now she is spending time in the Comal kitchen learning important skills so she will be ready and experienced to run her own business in the future. This on the job training is invaluable for Hernandez as she starts her journey through the restaurant industry, “It’s not books, it’s not reading, you have to do it every day. So it helps me a lot, because when I’m going to open my business, I’m going to be ready.”

A Commitment to America’s Young Men of Color: My Brother’s Keeper Alliance

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBKA) is a non-profit that was created under the Obama administration with the mission to work to ensure our nation’s boys and young men of color have equal opportunity to achieve their full potential and succeed. Through collaboration with local businesses, MBKA hosts leadership summits, milestone sessions and more to prepare and connect these young men to future employment opportunities.

Jalen Newton was one was of the 350 young men in attendance at one of MBKA’s career summits last November who was offered a job after a day of networking and building connections with different employers. On his experience Newton shared,  “I was fortunate enough to land a job with Starbucks Corporation…The opportunity was very enlightening and I gained a great deal of knowledge about major corporations, interviewing and networking skills.”

Getting a Start on Culinary Skills: The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) “ProStart” Program

ProStart,” is the NRAEF’s cornerstone training program that brings together the restaurant industry and the classroom, giving participants a platform to discover new interests, talents and open doors to fulfilling careers in the industry. From management skills to culinary techniques, ProStart provides real-life experience opportunities, training future restaurant employees in skills specific to the restaurant and foodservice industry, along with building employability skills like leadership, critical thinking, communication and responsibility.

Melissa Gray found her passion for the restaurant industry working in the kitchen of a small restaurant in her hometown. She learned even more about the industry she loves during her time enrolled in ProStart. Through ProStart, Gray learned the ideals of hard work, stress management and flexibility in the kitchen. Now, she is out using those skills in her jobs in the restaurant industry, most recently, as Front of the House Manager at The Culinary Institute of America in California. “It takes lots of flexibility,” Gray says. “Each day, each moment, is different in the restaurant industry. Being able to roll with the punches and remain calm under pressure is an invaluable skill.”

Breaking Employment Barriers Through Job Training: Goodwill Hawaii  

Goodwill Hawaii’s impact on the local community continues long after boxes of donated clothes are dropped off, sorted, and sold. In fact, the organization takes 90 percent of the revenue from its sales to fund multiple job training programs offered across the Big Island. In 2015, Goodwill Hawaii helped more than 2,500 people with help from restaurant and retail partnerships. Different programs are tailored to assist various populations– including low-income families, recently paroled offenders, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, veterans, and at-risk youth– in finding work, keeping that job, and learning how to move up.  Read more about Goodwill Hawaii’s work in the Hawaii Herald Tribune.

Improving Communication And English Language Skills: The Garces Foundation

Iron Chef Jose Garces has more than a dozen restaurants in cities across the country, including Philadelphia. Recognizing that the restaurant industry is the fifth largest employer of Latinos in Philadelphia, the Garces Foundation offers a twelve-week “English for the Restaurant and Everyday Livingprogram to help local workers improve their English language and communication skills. The foundation also offers nutrition education, computer literacy classes, and other skill-building workshops with chefs throughout the city.