The Coca-Cola Company turns restaurant workers into leaders

Contributes $250k to share the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center with the industry.

WASHINGTON, DC – February 28, 2022 – The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) today announced that The Coca-Cola Company has contributed $250,000 to the National Restaurant Association to support efforts to share the NRAEF’s Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) with Association members and the industry at large. RHLC provides accredited programs designed to feed careers in the food and beverage industry by promoting excellence and advancement of service professionals.

The RHLC currently offers three career tracks: restaurant manager, kitchen manager, and line cook. More than 70 employers are part of its programs at over 300 locations — with plans to expand in the coming year. The Coca-Cola Company, a long-standing supporter of the Association and NRAEF, is committed to connecting employers with the RHLC and bringing much needed talent to the restaurant and hospitality industry. Learn more about the RHLC at


The Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) feeds careers in the food and beverage industry by promoting excellence and advancement of service professionals through a set of accredited programs. The RHLC currently offers three career tracks: restaurant manager, kitchen manager, and line cook.

“Throughout the challenges our industry has experienced, The Coca-Cola Company has played a pivotal role in our efforts to support and develop leaders in the restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality industry,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “RHLC is an exciting ‘win-win’ for both employers and their employees, and we thank The Coca-Cola Company for its continued support. Their passion for serving the industry and developing the next generation of leaders will benefit every restaurant.“

For more than 20 years, The Coca-Cola Company has served as one of the Association and NRAEF’s strongest partners, contributing more than $15 million to invest in the Foundation’s work to provide people from all backgrounds with the training, education, financial resources, and career development they need to build pathways to meaningful jobs and careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. In 2020, its donation to the NRAEF’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund helped provide restaurant workers with $500 grants during the pandemic.

The NRAEF welcomed Hector Gallardo, vice president of customer leadership foodservice at Coca-Cola to its 2022 board of trustees. Joining the 2022 National Restaurant Association board of directors is Pam Stewart, president, west operations at the Coca-Cola North American Operating Unit.

“The Coca-Cola Company has been an avid supporter of the NRAEF since its start in 1987,” said Krista Schulte, vice president, industry relations and business development at The Coca-Cola Company. “We recognize the pivotal role that both the Association and NRAEF play in the advancement of the restaurant industry and its workforce. We are proud to see our commitment to make a difference in action through our ongoing partnership with the Association and NRAEF as one of their strongest financial contributors.”

The RHLC was launched in 2021 and supported in part by $9.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. Companies that take advantage of RHLC see an 80 percent employee retention rate, and participants typically increase their wages by 14 percent. Employers can also receive up to $1,000 for each employee enrolled. Learn more about the program at


About the National Restaurant Association: Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurantsFacebook and YouTube.

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” 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


Hannah Oliver
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation


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