How a Dallas Restaurant Became a National Youth Development System


“If you listen to youthful individuals, they’ll explain to you what they have to have,” reported Chad Houser. A well-regarded Dallas chef and restaurateur, Houser opened a cafe 14 years back and began listening to justice-concerned youth.

Starting in 2011, with a chaotic restaurant to run, Houser commenced a collection of pop up dinners with youth on the aspect. “I essential to walk the speak,” explained Houser. He designed operate experiences for young men and women that hadn’t witnessed significantly possibility in their life. He observed younger people today turn out to be very pleased of their competencies, obtain self-assurance and come to be aspect of a group.  

Just after 41 pop-up dinners, Houser offered his restaurant and, in 2015, opened Café Momentum in centre metropolis Dallas to enable 15-19 yr previous adjudicated youth develop a clean start out.

Each and every meal of fresh, regionally sourced, new American cuisine at Café Momentum is prepared and served by young men and women concerned in the application less than the assistance of award-successful cooks.

Cafe work is tough. New employees at Café Momentum often begin washing dishes, but Houser insists, “Dishwasher is the most essential job—it impacts all of us.” Day by day, he works tricky to instill a teamwork ethic, “I’m heading to do my most effective so you are established up to do your finest.”

Café Momentum is not just a restaurant, it’s a youth improvement technique with an ecosystem of assist like paid out internships, schooling and teaching, and physical and mental health and fitness guidance.

The yr-extended Momentum internship starts off with a 6-working day orientation that outcomes in a ServSafe certification. Interns are paired with scenario professionals to identify demands and set targets. Even though they operate their way via all regions of the cafe, scenario supervisors enable interns plan money education and learning, parenting classes, and career exploration. If interns need a significant school diploma, they comprehensive it through Café Momentum Homeschool.

Profitable interns graduate from the method and are positioned in a work with group companions. Over 1,000 youth have benefited from the internship plan.

Countrywide Momentum

Cafe Momentum has not only captured the awareness of Dallas, but also the nationwide local community like the Nationwide Soccer League. Partnering with the Players Coalition through the pandemic and other pop-up activities, students are able to have significant discussions with a assortment of advocates.

To deliver prospects for youth across the county, national expansion is underway. Web sites in Nashville and Pittsburgh will open later this year. They are increasing money to extend to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver and Houston.

Café Momentum is not just a restaurant, it is a youth advancement system with an ecosystem of support…

Tom Vander Ark

Houser introduced the Momentum Advisory Collective (MAC) in 2020 to scale the Momentum Design nationwide. The potential-developing nonprofit will open new Café Momentum eating places and courses presenting residing wages, culinary position teaching and holistic support to younger men and women that have engaged the justice method.

MAC has a major TAM (total addressable sector): additional than 60,000 youth less than age 18 are incarcerated in U.S. juvenile prisons on any specified working day. About four instances that many youth are put on probation each individual year. And most of these younger individuals are not acquiring education and training, operate working experience and holistic assist.

Next year, MAC will do the job with a pilot cohort of 10 cooks restaurateurs to provide ideal-practice means that will set them up for accomplishment.

Café Momentum is a good case in point of a new pathway for underserved youth. It brings together compensated perform, coaching and assistance. It commences with listening.  

This publish is section of our New Pathways marketing campaign sponsored by American University student Assistance® (ASA), Stand With each other and the Walton Family Basis.

This publish was at first revealed on Forbes.

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