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Our Grants At Work On The Ground: Kitchen of Grace

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In early 2016, we awarded a $15,000 Small & Simple grant to establish a social enterprise known as Kitchen of Grace, out of the Marshall-Shadeland restaurant, Cafe on the Corner. Kitchen of Grace’s mission is to act as a catalyst for peace and healing in the community by offering opportunities to hire and raise up indigenous leaders through apprenticeship programs in culinary training and business reentry.

Using food as a tool, Kitchen of Grace launched in April of 2016 by helping two local at risk youth build life skills and healthy living in a productive, pleasant and safe environment. The first phase of the javon_pic_2program was focused on working towards offering the youth the skills sets to improve their overall quality of life like, proper dress attire for the job, building strong communication skills and paying attention to detail. In the second phase of the program, the youth moved into a more hands on training/mentoring with the owner of Cafe on the Corner, Michael Blackwell. They not only became familiar with the ins and outs of working in a restaurant, food and hospitality setting, they  are also mentored  on how to understand the workforce beyond their environment by practicing workplace readiness skills, customer relations and interpersonal skills as well as problem solving and safety skills.

In just the first 3 months of the program, the two youth grew tremendously. One of the program participants, Javon, a student at Perry High-school, commented that he is more confident in himself. His grandmother has also noticed positive changes, “Since Javon has started the program I have seen a huge change in his life he is more responsible, positive in his attitude, and his hygiene has improved tremendously”. Moving forward The Kitchen of Grace will continue to move the youth through various rotations that will build their skills sets of catering management, and marketing management including helping the chef at Cafe on the Corner to prepare and serve a complete catering event with the U.S. Steel Workers.

“Javon has been committed, and blessed to go through the program with the help of Neighborhood Allies which has enabled The Kitchen of Grace to provide a stipend that allowed him to purchase his school clothes something he would have never had the opportunity to do otherwise due to his family situation; being raised by a single mother the oldest of 5 siblings living in poverty!  He is humbled, honored, and excited about the next chapter in his life which will allow him to use the skills he has gained through The Kitchen of Grace to find employment with the consistent help of the Program Director Mr. Micheal Blackwell.”

With our Small & Simple grant, Kitchen of Grace was not only able to offer these important stipends to the youth, but also purchase equipment which has been the foundation for the start of building out a functional energy-saver Kitchen lab. The are currently recruiting and plan to enroll additional students, with a goal to have 14 youth complete the program by end of June 2017.

Kitchen of Grace has a vision that is built on a self-supporting business model in which everybody wins–students gain the skills, personal growth, experience and confidence to become self-sufficient; employers find a source of professionally trained and tested talent; and the community expands its base of productive, taxpaying citizens. Their ultimate impact is to prepare and empower youth to achieve meaningful employment.

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