Future Restaurant Leaders Cook-Up Careers at the New ProStart Virtual Lounge

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company launch new networking site for 130,000 PROSTART students to exchange ideas, learn from the pros and explore opportunities in the restaurant and foodservice industry

WASHINGTON, DC – August 24, 2021 – Today, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and The Coca-Cola Company officially launched the ProStart Virtual Lounge powered by Coca-Cola, a new interactive site for young people from all backgrounds pursuing a future in the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry.

Just in time for “back-to-school,” ProStart students and alumni can sign-up today and start sharing their skills, learning about restaurant jobs and careers, winning prizes and having some fun. Supported by the experts at Coca-Cola, features include student recipes and restaurant concepts, food photography, alumni success stories, inspiration from celebrity chefs and influencers, student-to-student chats and exclusive culinary demos.



ProStart is the NRAEF’s high-school culinary arts and restaurant management training and certification program with an enrollment of 130,000 students and offered at 1,700 schools nationwide. The Coca-Cola Company has been a long-standing supporter of the ProStart program and the Educational Foundation since 2003, contributing more than $15 million, including $100,000 in scholarships each year.

“The Foundation’s partnership with Coca-Cola has directly benefitted the lives of thousands of young people interested in our industry,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “The ProStart Virtual Lounge is a new way for the Foundation and Coca-Cola to open doors of opportunity for ProStart students and alumni everywhere, and to let them know that the ProStart community will be with them every step of the way.”

“We’re proud to support the NRAEF in creating a high energy place where students can learn from each other, grow, and network,” said Krista Schulte, Vice President, Industry Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company. “Through the ProStart program, we have the ability to inspire, educate and help mentor the industry’s future leaders.”

The NRAEF and Coca-Cola are celebrating the official kick-off of the ProStart Virtual Lounge by launching a sweepstakes for ProStart students and alumni who register on the site as users. ProStart students or alumni who register for the site between August 24 and October 18 will be automatically entered to win one of 50 prizes, including a digital camera, tablet and ring-light kit to help them improve their food photography skills.

The ProStart Virtual Lounge was developed with support from Dedica, a full-service agency that focuses on strategy development, design execution and production across all brand touchpoints.

Check out the ProStart Virtual Lounge powered by Coca-Cola here.


About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s mission of service to the public is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to Attract, Empower and Advance todays and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce. NRAEF programs include: ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready – partnering with community based organizations to provide opportunity youth and previously incarcerated individuals with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and, the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship project – a partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association providing a hospitality apprenticeship program for the industry. For more information on the NRAEF, visit ChooseRestaurants.org.

About The Coca-Cola Company: The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is a total beverage company, offering over 500 brands in more than 200 countries and territories. In addition to the company’s Coca-Cola brand, our portfolio includes AdeS, Ayataka, Costa, Dasani, Del Valle, Fanta, Georgia, Gold Peak, Honest, innocent, Minute Maid, Powerade, Simply, smartwater, Sprite, vitamin water and ZICO. We’re constantly transforming our portfolio, from reducing sugar in our drinks to bringing innovative new products to market. We’re also working to reduce our environmental impact by replenishing water and promoting recycling. With our bottling partners, we employ more than 700,000 people, helping bring economic opportunity to local communities worldwide. Learn more at www.coca-colacompany.com and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tori Hyndman- NRAEF

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