The Foundation and MOD Pizza are launching the partnership this month at the chain’s Chicago locations with plans to roll it out nationally later this year.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and restaurant company MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings LLC, parent of the fast-casual MOD Pizza chain, recently partnered to create job opportunities and skills training for young adults to help them start careers that can change their life paths.

The initiative, called the HOPES Program—Hospitality Opportunities for People (Re)Entering Society—allows businesses, state restaurant associations and community-based organizations, to work together to create successful career paths for justice-involved young adults ages 18 to 24 who are re-entering society.

The Foundation and MOD Pizza are launching the partnership this month at the chain’s Chicago locations with plans to roll it out nationally later this year.

“MOD Pizza has set the standard for how restaurants can meaningfully and successfully work with justice-involved youth,” says Susan Crystal-Mansour, the Foundation’s vice president of program impact. “We are honored to have MOD as the inaugural partner in our life-changing HOPES program. We believe this partnership can be the gold standard for the rest of the industry. It will allow us to create pathways to long-term success for dedicated employees often overlooked by society.”

“Over the years, we’ve seen first-hand the incredible opportunity that exists for companies to make an impact by providing jobs for individuals with barriers to employment,” says Ally Svenson, MOD Pizza’s co-founder and chief purpose officer. “Through this collaboration, we can provide critical resources to help squad members on their journeys to stability and economic mobility. We’re grateful to the Foundation for choosing MOD as its first national restaurant partner.”

With its holistic approach, the HOPES program seeks to reduce recidivism by helping participants focus on securing supportive job placement and creating opportunities for career advancement. In addition, it provides:

  • Personalized case management
  • ServSafe educational support and certification
  • Legal support
  • Health services
  • Mental health counseling
  • Educational support to obtain a high-school degree
  • Temporary housing assistance
  • Transportation assistance
  • Substance abuse counseling

MOD currently employs more than 8,300 employees and offers industry-leading benefits, mentorship and training opportunities, plus access to the “Bridge Fund,” which provides financial support for squad members in need. To date, the company has distributed more than $1.5 million in grants to help employees in crisis.