The Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance announced Monday that Café Momentum has been selected as a recipient of the Youth Opportunity Fund, a $3 million initiative to support city-level, innovative, and scalable programs connecting youth to opportunities that increase their employability, and prepare them for lifelong success.

The Youth Opportunity Fund is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, designed to support direct-service programs that empower urban youth, ages 16 to 24. A total of 12 grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations in 10 of the largest U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Café Momentum will receive a one-year grant totaling $250,000 to help young people. More than 6,500 youth enter the Dallas County Juvenile system each year. Upon release, youth often return to the community with insufficient social and life skills. Café Momentum is a restaurant and culinary training facility that transforms young lives by equipping the Dallas community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. Through a partnership with the Dallas County Juvenile Department and support from the Youth Opportunity Fund, 250 adjudicated youth will learn life and leadership skills through various programs. Many will participate in a 13-week life and leadership skills course and transition into paid internships. They will rotate through every aspect of the restaurant industry, working side-by-side with established chefs while learning culinary and social skills and earning a livable wage. Participants will receive continued mentoring and support to foster successful re-entry into the community.

“Café Momentum runs innovative, proven programs that equip Dallas’ young adults with important life skills and employment opportunities,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says. “Working in partnership with Café Momentum, the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance, we will provide training that will better prepare more low-income youth in Dallas for academic and career success.”

“We are pleased to partner with Café Momentum, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Citi Foundation to help many of the underserved youth in our community train for and find good jobs and careers,” says Dr. Terry Smith, Dallas county chief juvenile probation officer “We’re eager to work together to help more young adults build a stronger foundation for academic and career success.”

The Fund supports programs that address youth unemployment through partnerships with municipal governments and collaborations across industries that are core to the economies of the Pathways to Progress cities, including IT, tech, healthcare, the service industry, and environmental sustainability. Grantees will collaborate and share best practices on the most effective ways to expand and connect youth to economic opportunity in their communities.

“The future competitiveness of America’s cities hinges on the positive economic outcomes of our young people,” says Brandee McHale, president of the Citi Foundation. “We launched the Youth Opportunity Fund to support the innovative work of community partners who are helping low-income youth create the on-ramps that will lead towards career success.”

“We are dealing with the mixed reality of our nation’s high school graduation numbers increasing at unprecedented rates, while an estimated 5.6 million young people are not in school or employed,” says John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise. “The dozen Youth Opportunity Fund grantees are vital to connecting thousands of young people to opportunities that boost their ability to compete in today’s economy.”

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