The job search can be grueling, especially for our Culinary Job Training students who often have histories of incarceration or other high barriers to employment. But our recent cohort of students overcame those odds, achieving 100% employment post-graduation!
This class was our ninth to be hosted at Central Union Mission, a valued partner organization that provides us with additional kitchen space and has a devoted staff of case workers and counselors, but it was the first in a critical respect. Helen Hogye, DC Central Kitchen’s Licensed Professional Counselor, remarked, “This class was the first I’ve seen who so consistently took the feedback given and made swift adjustments to improve. From increasing alertness, to honing leadership skills, to asking for help, students rose to the challenges we gave them.” One student even worked diligently to ensure that, despite having a baby born during the second week of class, he only missed one full day! This group’s diligence and determination demonstrated both the knife skills and life skills they will need to succeed in the competitive hospitality industry.
We know that DC Central Kitchen graduates leave us with the skills and experience they need to get and keep a job. And thanks to our dedicated Workforce Development team, we have strengthened restaurant and hospitality partnerships, finding opportunities that work for our graduates and the businesses that hire them. Alumni of this most recent class are embarking on culinary careers at partners like Hyatt Canopy, Marriott International, Safeway, and even our very own DC Central Kitchen. We’re proud to be a job creator, providing dignified work, fair pay and robust benefits to the 77 DC Central Kitchen graduates who work for us, a number that’s grown with our new hires from this class.
Not only has this class broken the cycle of poverty in their own lives, they are using their newly-secured positions to assist others. As recently as last week, graduates were reaching out to our Workforce Development team alerting them to other open positions that might be suitable for fellow graduates. Their new employers are impressed too – one indicated that DC Central Kitchen graduates have made such an indelible impression that he is eager to hire future graduates as well.
Our alumni are debunking myths about who can be a great employee, and paving the way for others as they embody our mission out in the community and help our city’s hospitality sector continue to grow.