December 06, 2018

Forum aims to put unemployed youth to work in restaurants

Washington, D.C. — This week, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation kicks off its first annual Restaurant Ready Forum to share best practices for training and employing “opportunity youth” at local restaurants.  The three-day Forum brings together community based organizations, State Restaurant Association partners and key business leaders that see restaurant jobs as a pathway to independence for unemployed and/or out of school youth.

Restaurant Ready is a national program dedicated to helping young adults acquire job and the life skills needed to pursue jobs and careers in the restaurant industry. The forum will review the guidelines and steps required to launch Restaurant Ready and highlight how the program is life-changing. Currently, there are more than 4.6 million disconnected young people in the U.S. — about one in nine teens and young adults.

The Forum is part of Opportunity Week, a weeklong event focused on intersectional issues related to this population, spotlighting what's happening, what's working and what remains to be done in communities around the country to build pathways for opportunity youth.

On Thursday, December 6, the Opportunity Youth network will hold its annual Summit, where a cross-sector of leaders discuss key challenges, followed by a networking reception hosted by the NRAEF. The event continues on Friday with a full briefing on the Restaurant Ready program by NRAEF leadership, panel discussions and sharing of success stories from currently active programs.

"There's a strong need to help communities across the country engage these young people and help them develop the skills required to get a job that can translate into a career and life of independence," said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of the NRAEF. "Restaurants serve as an excellent work environment for learning what it takes to be successful. We are honored to be partnering with these organizations and industry leaders that are dedicated to opening doors of opportunity for today's youth."

"The program has given me great exposure to the culinary world and has given me exciting opportunities," said Amy Poston, a participant from The Matthews House, a Restaurant Ready partner based in Fort Collins, Colorado. "It helped me build my confidence to get a job. After participating in this program I want to keep practicing my kitchen skills at home and at work so one day I can be where I want to be."

The Foundation thanks its Restaurant Ready donors for their generous support: The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, Darden Foundation, White Castle, Arby's Foundation and the National Network.

Visit to learn how to get involved with the NRAEF and its work to build pathways to meaningful jobs and careers in the restaurants and foodservice industry.