The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) was awarded $600,000 from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to implement and expand Restaurant Ready and hospitality apprenticeships in New Orleans and throughout the state of Louisiana.
Restaurant Ready is a national program dedicated to helping young adults acquire the basic job and life skills necessary to pursue employment in the restaurant industry and jumpstart a pathway to independence.
The funds will allow the NRAEF and its partners to provide young adults—ages 16-24 who are disconnected from employment and formal education—with basic jobs skills training at two sites in New Orleans throughout the state.
The restaurant and foodservice industry is a major economic driver in Louisiana, employing 1 in 10 people statewide. By 2029, Louisiana is projected to grow restaurant and foodservice jobs by 7 percent, resulting in 228,400 total restaurant and foodservice jobs across the state.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This initiative will help young people reach their full potential by way of direct connections to good jobs and a better future through opportunities in our industry,” says Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “The Hilton Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged individuals, and we are proud to support them on their path to success.”
To address challenges at the local level, the NRAEF will collaborate with a network of community-based organizations (CBOs) and the Louisiana Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Participating CBOs include Café Reconcile, Liberty’s Kitchen and more – each will offer job-readiness training, entry-level employment and apprenticeship opportunities aligned with in-demand occupations.
“We are excited to partner with the NRAEF and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to facilitate local connections with the NRAEF,” adds Stan Harris, president and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the NRAEF’s 2020 Board Chair. “With help from the Hilton Foundation, we will build a direct hiring pipeline from the community-based organizations conducting the trainings to the employers who can hire these young adults as soon as they’re ready.”
The funds will build on the NRAEF’s 2019 grant, where the Foundation began engaging with local partners and employers to implement Restaurant Ready.
Nearly 1 in 5 young people in Louisiana meet the definition of opportunity youth: young adults ages 16 to 24 are not currently engaged with school or work. Opportunity youth are statistically more likely to come from low-income families, racial and/or ethnic minority backgrounds and more likely to experience homelessness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and long-term unemployment.
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