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Labor Dept. awards $4.5M grant to NRAEF

Funds aimed at program to train ex-inmates for hospitality jobs

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation a $4.5 million grant to launch a training program for former prison inmates, the NRAEF said Monday.

The grant, the largest ever received by the NRAEF, is targeted at three cities: Boston, Chicago and Richmond and Hampton Roads, Va. And it is aimed to creating opportunities for young adults who have been in the justice system and served time.

The NRAEF has created a new program called Hospitality Opportunities for People (re)Entering Society, or HOPES. This program will be run in partnership with corrections departments, community-based organizations and state restaurant associations, the NRAEF said.

Using NRAEF training guidelines that have been compiled from industry experts over the years, the department of corrections will train those in the justice system to enter the industry at participating correctional facilities, after their release and during parole. Once training is completed, the HOPES participant will be placed in a local restaurant and/or foodservice position.

“We are honored to be part of a national effort to create positive employment opportunities for young adults involved with the justice system,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF, in a statement.

The NRAEF plans to collaborate with its apprenticeship programs and Opportunity Youth, which targets youths who are out of school and unemployed.

“The program fits perfectly with our mission to attract, empower and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant workforce,” Gifford said, “and is an excellent way for anyone seeking to get back on track to becoming a productive and responsible member of society.”

The grant awarded to the NRAEF previously from the U.S. Department of Labor enabled the creation of the industry’s first restaurant management apprenticeship program where more than 1,000 employees are enrolled nationwide.

Contact Holly at [email protected]

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