High schools across the country (including select Arizona schools) can jump-start or improve their ProStart culinary arts programs by applying for $5,000 grants from The Rachael Ray Foundation. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is accepting applications through March 14, 2023, at ChooseRestaurants.org/ProStartGrowGrant.

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Up to 25 ProStart schools, or those with culinary arts programs looking to become a ProStart school, could receive a 2023 Rachael Ray Foundation ProStart Grow Grant of $5,000. The funding supports upgrades or the purchase of new resources, the building up of classrooms and supplies, and supporting teachers with what they need to help their students learn career-building skills in the restaurant, food service and hospitality industry.

“The ProStart program provides an exceptional hands-on culinary learning experience at nearly 1,850 high schools across the country, teaching them fundamental, career-building skills in the restaurant, food service, and hospitality industry,” says Rachael Ray, award-winning television personality and philanthropist. “We are psyched to once again support these programs — and the educators who make them possible (my heroes) — in fostering the next generation of industry talent with ProStart Grow Grants.”

Rachel Ray

This year marks the fourth round of Grow Grant funding provided through The Rachael Ray Foundation, which has awarded $590,000 to schools demonstrating a strong need to engage and educate students through the ProStart program. Additionally, over the past 16 years, more than 260 scholarships have been provided by Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! organization and The Rachael Ray Foundation.

“The students in 73 schools have had an additional range of unique experiences and opportunities to grow their interest and industry skills thanks to a ProStart Grow Grant,” says Rob Gifford, president of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “We are grateful for the continued partnership with The Rachael Ray Foundation and their shared commitment to cultivating the skills and talents of tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice industry leaders.”

ProStart culinary arts two-year program

ProStart, a two-year technical education program focused on culinary arts and restaurant management, is offered at nearly 1,850 schools across the country and enrolls nearly 165,000 students. These students experience the restaurant and food service industry through a close connection with local industry experts, class mentors, tours of local facilities, student competitions and more. ProStart students finish the program ready to join the workforce and make an immediate impact in restaurants and food service.

“I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to teach students new mediums of cake decorating and pastry arts as well as food photography,” says Kandice Dequeant, an 18-year ProStart educator at W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, which received a 2022 Rachael Ray Foundation ProStart Grow Grant. “Equipment provided by the Rachel Ray Grow Grant allowed us to experience cake sculpting, airbrushing, fondant techniques, and culinary photography skills, which prepares students for not only entry-level positions but potential self-sustaining, long-term self-employment. That’s exciting, life-changing stuff!”

The NRAEF facilitates the Grow Grant application process. Current ProStart schools or those onboarding/incoming in the 2023-2024 academic year are eligible to apply. Each school must submit a complete application. If selected, new ProStart schools are required to sign an agreement joining the program for the next school year or return the funds. Applicants have through March 14, 2023, to complete their submissions for the NRAEF’s consideration by clicking here.