Cooking Up New Opportunities

SHeadshot of STRIVE graduate, Jacob, in a black chef jacket.TRIVE Future Leaders, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, is an innovative program designed for justice-impacted young adults ages 18-24 currently operating in Atlanta, Chicago, Connecticut, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego. We recently spoke to Jacob, a graduate of STRIVE Future Leaders in New Orleans at Café Reconcile, on his experience. 

Tell us about yourself and why you came to STRIVE Future Leaders at Cafe Reconcile:

My name is Jacob. I enrolled in Reconcile’s workforce development program with STRIVE Future Leaders to gain experience learning about careers in the culinary arts and enhance my personal aspirations.

Tell us about your experience with the program:

I was referred to the program at Reconcile by one of their community partners. Prior to visiting the open house, I never thought about all the different positions in a professional kitchen. This program opened my eyes to how many levels there are in the culinary industry. With the help of the trainer advocates and chefs, I’ve learned how to work every station and in areas I truly enjoy. After my first day, I knew the program would be the right fit for me to gain real work experience and and learn more about what my true talents and gifts are that will help me grow in my career. 

What support and skills did you gain?

The program teaches you great skills that anyone should have under their belt, through the daily workshops and hands-on training. You really get a feel for what it will be like working in a restaurant. Overall, my life professionally and personally has improved since I started this program because of the genuine support I’ve received. This experience has truly helped with my career goals and provided the resources that I need to get started on my career path.

What opportunities did you find after graduation?

I am now a full-time employee at Rosedale Restaurant. I never dreamed I would be working side by side with a renowned chef like Susan Spicer. I’m quickly advancing in my position because of the skills I have learned through the STRIVE Future Leader Program with Reconcile.

What’s next for you?

I’ve learned so much about the culinary industry that now my long-term goal is to start a food truck business. I hope to teach other young Black men like myself how to take advantage of opportunities like the STRIVE Future Leaders program to help better their lives.

Any advice for others who may benefit from SFL?

This program will help you prepare for your future. If you take it seriously you can build a legacy for your family and benefit your community in a positive way.


STRIVE Future Leaders is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and was developed in collaboration with MDRC and the Youth Development Institute, with support from The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Learn more: