National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is Awarded $1 Million Grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to Reduce Young Adult Employment Barriers and Build Career Pathways

Washington, D.C. – October 6, 2022 – The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to address workforce challenges for young adults working in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Restaurant Ready LogoWorking in conjunction with its network of community-based organizations in its Restaurant Ready program, the NRAEF will use the grant funds to undertake a nationwide study to glean insights from young adults and employers on perceived barriers to restaurant career retention and advancement, as well as steps to address these barriers. Based on the results of the study, the NRAEF will identify and deliver a framework of solutions for community organizations serving young adults and the restaurant and hospitality industry. Through the grant, the NRAEF will work with committed employers to adapt practices, pilot resources, and connect young adults with employment opportunities.

Restaurant Ready chef in kitchen“We are excited that the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has selected us to receive this generous tranche of $1 million to jump start our efforts to better address workforce barriers for young adults,” said Rob Gifford, President of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “The restaurant industry provides jobs for more than 14 million Americans, but there is still much that needs to happen to help people from all walks of life find a path to advancement and career growth. I look forward to the understanding and opportunity these funds will help generate in the months ahead.”

While the restaurant and hospitality industry offers a low barrier to entry and multiple career pathways, restaurant operators continue to face rapid attrition – a trend that has been compounded by the pandemic. Despite steady gains, industry-wide employment remains down 5% from the start of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association. This grant presents an opportunity for the NRAEF to design and implement creative solutions that address the needs of the next generation of industry team members.

Restaurant Ready is a national program dedicated to helping individuals acquire the basic job and life skills necessary to pursue jobs in the restaurant industry and jumpstart a pathway to independence. Launched in 2016, the program focuses on supporting individuals in diverse communities who are not in school and or/employed with their transition into communities and work. Working with local community-based organizations, the NRAEF currently operates Restaurant Ready programs in 64 locations across the country.

Visit to learn more about the NRAEF and its work to build pathways to meaningful jobs and careers in restaurant and foodservice.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) 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 today’s 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” 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 Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) – accredited apprenticeship programs designed to build the careers of service professionals. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

Click here for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s 2021 Annual Impact Report. 


Hannah Oliver

Latest News