Aging Out of Foster Care, And Into the Kitchen: New Bronx Program

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A scene from the most recent graduation.

Project Renewal

A scene from the most recent graduation.

Bronx, N.Y.Project Renewal, a nonprofit organization empowering homeless New Yorkers to renew their lives through comprehensive medical, housing and job programs, is offering a new track of its award-winning Culinary Arts Training Program to young men and women who are aging out of foster care—a population that faces disproportionately high risks of unemployment and homelessness in their adult lives.

The new course, offered at Project Renewal’s Fletcher Residence supportive housing building in the Bronx, serves New Yorkers ages 18 to 24 who are in need of career training options and college alternatives. Participants are recruited and receive an initial eight-week course in employment readiness skills by Catholic Guardian Services, a nonprofit that offers an array of social services to vulnerable youth and families.

Project Renewal’s program consists of six weeks of intensive training in the kitchen, followed by a mandatory six-week internship at a restaurant, catering company or corporate dining services. Students learn cooking, baking, catering, and nutrition; and they graduate ready to take on careers in the culinary industry.

“With the success of our Culinary Arts Training Program, we were looking for ways to expand to help meet the needs of more New Yorkers,” said Barbara Hughes, co-founder and Director of the Culinary Arts Training Program at Project Renewal.“When Catholic Guardian Services approached us seeking food service training for their clients, we recognized the positive impact our program could have on these young adults.”

According to the New York City Public Advocate’s Office, of the nearly 1,000 people who age out of the foster care system annually, 80 percent are on their own—dealing with vital needs like housing, employment, healthcare, and education. Fifty percent struggle with unemployment and 18 to 26 percent live in homeless shelters.

Project Renewal’s Culinary Arts Training Program¾which first launched in Manhattan in 1995, serving New Yorkers who had struggled with homelessness, addiction and unemployment¾places graduates in jobs at twice the rate of similar programs nationwide. In 2013, the program won one of the “Top 10 Innovative Nonprofit Awards” from New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity.

“With Project Renewal’s Culinary Arts Training Program, we saw an opportunity to expand our workforce development program for individuals formerly in or aging out of the foster care system,” said Ann McCabe, Catholic Guardian Services’ Assistant Executive Director for Child Welfare Services. “Thanks to Project Renewal, not only are these young adults getting the training they need, but also job placement assistance.”

The first students to complete this new track of the Culinary Arts Training Program in the Bronx will graduate on March 3, 2015.

For more information about Project Renewal’s Culinary Arts Training Program, visit www.projectrenewal.org/catp.

About Project Renewal

Project Renewal is a New York City-based nonprofit organization that works to end the cycle of homelessness by empowering men, women and children to renew their lives with health, homes and jobs. Project Renewal’s innovative programs are designed to end the revolving door of emergency rooms, jails, shelters and the streets. For over 45 years, Project Renewal’s pioneering approach has created uniquely integrated and comprehensive solutions. Its programs are replicated around the nation, helping even beyond the 16,000 homeless New Yorkers Project Renewal serves every year. For more information, visit http://www.projectrenewal.org/

About Catholic Guardian Services

Catholic Guardian Services (CGS), founded in 1899, is a sophisticated human services non-profit organization with programs that respond to the most vulnerable people in the New York City metropolitan area. Our mission is to serve those in need, to aid those who desire help, and to guide those who seek better lives. Through supportive interventions, we provide help, create hope and preserve dignity. For more information, visit: http://www.catholicguardian.org/