Youth Culinary students find success in program and internships

January 3, 2019

“When I found out that I could go to school, do this program, get paid for it and earn school credits at the same time I knew it was a good program. I get here an hour early because I love it so much.” - Lexi


Youth in the FareStart Youth Culinary program have complicated lives and barriers to overcome. Seventy percent are homeless or unstably housed, many are not living with their family and most have fallen behind in school or are barely attending – but are willing to try a new kind of school. 

Earning money is important for their survival, and in the program they can make progress toward their high school diploma at the same time. It is a win-win for them and it works:  This year 31 graduates of this program have graduated from high school – our highest number ever, and something many of them doubted they could ever manage. 

Through Seattle Public School’s Interagency Academy, students enroll with the agreement that they must stay in school if they want to stay in the program and earn their stipend. Once in training, they learn basic culinary and barista skills and are the workers in the FareStart Café at Pacific Tower. Supported by Interagency’s services, they also earn high school credit at the same time. 

This summer, FareStart piloted a new partnership with MOD Pizza, with MOD providing five paid internships to Youth Culinary graduates. Every one of those students made it through their internship and was hired by MOD at the end – a remarkable outcome for a pilot.  

MOD Pizza is a people-first company in a genuine way that prioritizes “impact hiring” to make positive social impacts, and it showed as their staff made the interns feel a part of the MOD family, and allowed each one of them to find success and even some leadership at work.  

Twelve other Youth Culinary graduates successfully interned at the FareStart Café in partnership with the City’s Seattle Youth Employment Program for a third year. All this made for FareStart’s biggest internship summer ever, and a fantastic start to growing the program to include increasing opportunities for paid internships that offer support and give the kids work history for their resumes, real experience and the opportunity to show leadership – a key to future success.  

FareStart is aiming to grow the school year training program capacity as well, offering enrollment to more populations, after having added NOVA High School students in the past year.