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PepsiCo partners with NRAEF

24 May 2019 | News

The program will officially begin June 1

PepsiCo and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced a new community collaborative between local restaurants, nonprofits and its Restaurant Readyprogram to train young people disconnected from the workforce and formerly incarcerated populations in work-readiness skills to prepare them for careers in restaurants and foodservice.

Gifford, Executive Vice President of the NRAEF said, “The community collaborative presents an incredible opportunity to grow the work of the Foundation to serve the local community in Chicago. We are ecstatic to bring together these local partners that already effectively train and employ young people who are not currently working and previously incarcerated individuals looking to reenter the workforce.”

The joint initiative looks to bridge the gap between community organizations and restaurant employers to connect career opportunities to the individuals who need it most, leveraging restaurants and foodservice companies as a first-step to employment – and ultimately, serve as a national model to bolster workforce efforts across the country.

Merary Simeon, Vice President of Diversity and Engagement, PepsiCo said, “We’re deeply committed to empowering our associates and the communities we serve. Joining forces across nonprofit, public and private sectors is a phenomenal way to drive real change for young people who can thrive in our communities when given the right support.”

“One of the biggest challenges facing Cook County and in particular Chicago is employing underrepresented young adults. Every young adult on every block in the region should be equipped and trained to secure a job where they are earning livable wages. Collaborations between the community, businesses and government are essential to addressing this problem. I am proud that the National Restaurant Association is partnering with the Safer Foundation and PepsiCo to launch the Restaurant Ready program in Chicago that puts young adults on the track to get jobs in the restaurant industry and on the path to independence,” stated Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore (D-4). 

With PepsiCo’s funding, the NRAEF will unite the key organizations which serve as experts in successfully training both populations in Chicago, including:

  • The Hatchery, a Chicago non-profit food and beverage business incubator that enables local entrepreneurs to build and grow successful businesses, which create economic growth and new job opportunities;
  • The Safer Foundation, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of services designed exclusively for people with criminal records;
  • Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF), a nonprofit dedicated to building Illinois' hospitality workforce and will identify key employers and connections to industry for disconnected youth and previously incarcerated individuals;



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