NRAEF and Ecolab Help States Support High-School Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Program with $750,000 in Grants

State restaurant associations to receive funding to grow and sustain ProStart program

WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, March 18, 2021 – The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today that State Restaurant Associations (SRAs) across the country will receive $750,000 to support and grow their state’s ProStart programs through funding made possible by Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services.

NRAEF’s contribution will allow SRAs to keep their ProStart programs robust and their students engaged during these challenging times for schools across the country. Funds will cover needs such as support for virtual learning, engagement with the restaurant industry, and providing equipment and supplies to culinary students unable to attend class due to COVID-19 restrictions.


Ecolab has been a proud supporter of the NRAEF’s ProStart program for 18 years.


ProStart, a two-year career and technical education program is currently offered at 1,700 schools across the country with 130,000 students enrolled. ProStart educators and coordinators have largely adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic with a mix of virtual and in-person learning, posing challenges for students to learn the hands-on skills the program requires. Funding from Ecolab, a long-standing supporter of the NRAEF and ProStart, will enable SRAs to sustain the ProStart program.

“The last year has been extremely difficult for both the restaurant industry and our schools. This crisis has required our State Restaurant Association partners to overcome unimaginable hurdles to keep the ProStart Program up and running, while ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and educators,” said Rob Gifford, President, NRAEF. “Thanks to our longtime partners at Ecolab, we can provide support at a critical time when our State Restaurant Association partners, ProStart schools and students need our help.”

“ProStart plays a vital role in the ongoing vitality of the restaurant industry, and we are pleased we can help these dedicated students continue building practical skills and gaining real-life industry experience,” said Mike Johannsen, executive vice president and general manager of Ecolab’s Global Institutional sector. “The NRAEF and Ecolab have been partners for many years, and we are proud to continue our support for the ProStart Program and State Restaurant Associations now more than ever.”

Over the past 18 years, Ecolab has provided more than $4.3M in support of ProStart and has been a title sponsor of the National ProStart Invitational’s Management Competition, in which student teams develop a proposal for the next promising restaurant concept and present it to a panel of industry judges. Their problem-solving skills are tested as they quickly solve challenges faced by restaurant managers on a daily basis.


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 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 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

About Ecolab
A trusted partner at nearly three million customer locations, Ecolab (ECL) is the global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services. With annual sales of $12 billion and more than 44,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and personalized service to advance food safety, maintain clean and safe environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies and sustainability for customers in the food, healthcare, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world. 

Follow us on LinkedIn @Ecolab, Twitter @Ecolab, Instagram @Ecolab_Inc and Facebook @Ecolab 

# # #

NRAEF Media Contact:
Mallory Domingue

Latest News