Cafe Momentum

How a Dallas Restaurant Became a National Youth Development System

“If you hear to young persons, they’ll inform you what they have to have,” reported Chad Houser. A perfectly-regarded Dallas chef and restaurateur, Houser opened a restaurant 14 years ago and began listening to justice-included youth.

Starting in 2011, with a hectic restaurant to run, Houser commenced a sequence of pop up dinners with youth on the aspect. “I necessary to stroll the converse,” reported Houser. He developed work ordeals for young people today that hadn’t observed significantly opportunity in their lives. He noticed younger men and women come to be happy of their capabilities, attain self-assurance and turn into element of a team.  

Immediately after 41 pop-up dinners, Houser sold his cafe and, in 2015, opened Café Momentum in center city Dallas to enable 15-19 yr outdated adjudicated youth generate a contemporary start out.

Each individual meal of clean, regionally sourced, new American cuisine at Café Momentum is ready and served by younger folks involved in the system beneath the assistance of award-profitable cooks.

Restaurant get the job done is difficult. New personnel at Café Momentum typically start out washing dishes, but Houser insists, “Dishwasher is the most critical job—it impacts all of us.” Each day, he will work difficult to instill a teamwork ethic, “I’m heading to do my finest so you’re established up to do your ideal.”

Café Momentum is not just a cafe, it is a youth improvement method with an ecosystem of assist together with compensated internships, education and education, and physical and psychological wellbeing support.

The calendar year-long Momentum internship starts off with a 6-working day orientation that results in a ServSafe certification. Interns are paired with situation professionals to recognize requires and set ambitions. Whilst they get the job done their way as a result of all spots of the cafe, case administrators support interns plan financial education and learning, parenting courses, and profession exploration. If interns need to have a high university diploma, they complete it by way of Café Momentum Homeschool.

Thriving interns graduate from the program and are put in a work with neighborhood associates. About 1,000 youth have benefited from the internship program.

Countrywide Momentum

Cafe Momentum has not only captured the awareness of Dallas, but also the national neighborhood which include the National Soccer League. Partnering with the Gamers Coalition for the duration of the pandemic and other pop-up gatherings, learners are capable to have significant discussions with a wide range of advocates.

To present chances for youth throughout the county, nationwide growth is underway. Websites in Nashville and Pittsburgh will open up later on this 12 months. They are boosting funds to broaden to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver and Houston.

Café Momentum is not just a restaurant, it’s a youth progress procedure with an ecosystem of support…

Tom Vander Ark

Houser introduced the Momentum Advisory Collective (MAC) in 2020 to scale the Momentum Model nationwide. The potential-constructing nonprofit will open up new Café Momentum dining places and systems giving living wages, culinary work instruction and holistic support to young men and women that have engaged the justice procedure.

MAC has a significant TAM (total addressable market place): more than 60,000 youth less than age 18 are incarcerated in U.S. juvenile prisons on any specified day. About 4 times that numerous youth are placed on probation each and every yr. And most of people young folks are not receiving instruction and training, work practical experience and holistic help.

Up coming yr, MAC will function with a pilot cohort of 10 cooks restaurateurs to present most effective-apply resources that will established them up for good results.

Café Momentum is a fantastic illustration of a new pathway for underserved youth. It brings together paid get the job done, training and assistance. It commences with listening.  

This put up is part of our New Pathways campaign sponsored by American Student Assistance® (ASA), Stand Collectively and the Walton Family members Basis.

This submit was initially released on Forbes.