DC Central Kitchen and Central Union Mission Join Forces to Connect Workers to New Careers


Friday, August 15th marked a milestone for Community Foundation grantee DC Central Kitchen with the graduation of their first Culinary Job Training class at partner organization Central Union Mission. Twelve weeks of hard work paid off for the 10 graduates who joined friends, family and DC Central Kitchen supporters at Central Union Mission to celebrate their achievements and plans for the future.

Class representative Lee Hylton addressed the audience, his fellow graduates, and the men and women of DC Central Kitchen’s current participants, who just completed their sixth week of training, and said: “Every day DC Central Kitchen exemplifies that there are still people who want to help others.” He added, “This program worked for me and my classmates, and it will work for you too.”

Lee, who spent 24 months in prison prior to starting the Culinary Job Training Program, secured a job prior to Friday’s graduation and started working this week at Acacia Bistro in the Van Ness neighborhood of Northwest DC. Other employers of the graduating class include Sodexo at Marymount University and Nando’s Peri Peri; and graduates are earning an average hourly wage of $11.62.

A steady job can mean a world of change for men and women overcoming obstacles like incarceration, homelessness and addiction. DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program works with students and alumni to help them secure a good job to support themselves and their families.

This cohort of DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program was made possible in part by a recent grant award from the CityCenterDC Opportunity Fund funded by Hines. Hines, a privately-owned real estate firm involved in real estate investment, development and property management worldwide, is the development sponsor for CityCenterDC – the 2.0 million square foot mixed-use development underway in the heart of downtown D.C. Hines sought guidance from The Community Foundation to award $200,000 in funding to four local nonprofit partners to support job training and work­force readiness in the surrounding neighborhood, including DC Central Kitchen.

DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program always has more applicants than it can accommodate—with funding from CityCenterDC, the program was able to initiate its new partnership with Central Union Mission to both utilize the Mission’s brand new culinary facilities as well as enroll Mission clients in the program. DC Central Kitchen has found that partnerships like these have created unique opportunities to provide more students with the critical tools they need to break the cycle of dependency and launch careers.

The Community Foundation would like to extend their congratulations to all of the graduates and wish them the best in their new culinary careers!