The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) today recognized Rachael Ray's affiliated philanthropies, including The Rachael Ray Foundation and the Yum-o! organization, for crossing the $1 million threshold of support for NRAEF scholarships that fund students pursuing higher education in the restaurant, hospitality, and foodservice industry.
The $1 million milestone is the culmination of 15 years of support for NRAEF scholarships from Rachael Ray’s charitable organizations. The latest gift of $50,000 will provide 10 scholarships to deserving students in the 2022-2023 academic year. To-date, support from the Rachael Ray Foundation and the Yum-o! organization has enabled 285 scholars to pursue careers in the restaurant, hospitality, and foodservice industry.
“It’s hard to overstate the impact that support from Rachael Ray’s organizations has had on the NRAEF’s ability to offer financial help to deserving students who are pursuing careers in our industry,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “For 15 years, her organizations have remained some of our most charitable partners, enabling 285 scholars to pursue higher education and building ProStart programs at over 30 schools through Grow Grants. We look forward to our future partnership with her as we develop the next generation of culinary talent.”
Rachael Ray scholars have gone on to work in top restaurants and hotel kitchens, while others have launched their own businesses or pursued graduate degrees. Thanks to the partnership with Rachael Ray’s philanthropies, NRAEF has also facilitated scholarship awards to deserving students featured on the Rachael Ray Show, including the winners of the Cook your Way to Culinary School competition and contest.
“My first job was a dish machine operator in a restaurant. I know first-hand the importance of being involved in the restaurant and food service community and how it can impact your life,” said Rachael Ray. “For a waitress from upstate New York, to be able to help deserving kids pursue an education in the hospitality industry makes me extremely happy. The NRAEF has been an incredible partner over the years, and I look forward to building upon the first $1 million awarded.”
In addition to funding NRAEF undergraduate scholarships, Rachael Ray’s organizations have supported ProStart students and communities through the Rachael Ray ProStart Grow Grants, providing a total of $590,000 in grant funding to 35 deserving ProStart schools across the country since 2020. Selected schools received grants to build or upgrade their programs to help students learn career-building skills in the restaurant, hospitality, and foodservice industry.
The NRAEF’s Scholarships & Grants Program awards $1 million annually to high school and undergraduate students pursuing restaurant and foodservice related degrees, and educators committed to furthering their education or professional development in culinary education and restaurant or foodservice management. The restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the largest employers in the U.S. with 12.8 million employees, and an additional 2 million positions will be added over the next decade. The NRAEF’s programs have proven successful at recruiting and training the workforce needed to meet the industry’s growth – 3 out of 4 students who have received an NRAEF scholarship are still studying and/or working in the industry. Learn more at ChooseRestaurants.org/Scholarships.