Youth Development Program

The Liberty’s Kitchen Youth Development Program is designed for New Orleans youth between the ages of 16-24, who are out of work and out of school. The risk factors for these young people include higher poverty rates, low educational attainment, a lack of work skills and experience, and mental health and substance abuse issues. Many of our young people have been involved in the criminal justice system and almost all have been touched by the violence which continues to be endemic to our city.

We utilize our food service-based businesses to teach and provide experiential learning for our trainees. This innovative program provides participants with comprehensive workforce and soft skills training along with an appreciation for quality, whole and freshly-prepared food.

Our Recipe for Success

Our Youth Development Program provides participants with both occupational and employability skills training and addresses the social issues that have created barriers to employment. The objective of the Youth Development Program is to graduate students with a sense of purpose and the skills, tools and opportunities to thrive in gainful employment.

We take a holistic approach by combining hands-on food service training with classroom instruction, individual case management, job placement services and follow-up support. All aspects of our innovative Youth Development Program are developing a participant’s ability to become independent and self-sufficient – and of course, successfully employed.

Our students participate in an attainment-based training program, progressing through different levels or tiers of training and achievement, thus giving them a sense of accomplishment and the motivation to complete the program. Liberty’s Kitchen also has an open admission policy with the ability to take new participants anytime there is availability; having participants staggered in our learning tiers provides more opportunities for hands-on training and more importantly, creates real opportunity for peer mentoring.

Our “Recipe for Success” contains four main ingredients:

  • Social and Soft Skills Training teaches students personal responsibility and how to make positive choices for themselves and their community. Our life skills curriculum covers topics ranging from anger management to financial literacy.
  • Occupational Skills Training takes place in our food service-based businesses — providing a safe and secure environment to learn basic culinary and employability skills through hands-on, real-world experience. Our range of food service-based businesses together with our made-from-scratch cooking methods ensure that our participants receive experiential training in the culinary skills necessary to transform fresh, whole ingredients into wholesome and healthy meals.
  • Individual Case Management provides wrap around support services focusing on social issues such as housing needs, day-care issues, educational goals and financial literacy. Program staff work with students to create an Individual Development Plan outlining their personal goals and the necessary steps to achieve those goals. Our onsite Social Worker provides mental health services to assist our students with the psychological and social service issues that prevent their advancement to a more productive life.
  • Job Placement and Transition Services means finding appropriate employment for our students – our graduates are prepared to step in and thrive not only in the culinary and hospitality industries, but many other industries as well. And to insure success, Liberty’s Kitchen works with our graduates for one full year after program completion to enable job retention, continuation of any needed social services and/or completion of education goals.