The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced it achieved several major milestones in 2012, including awarding $3 million in scholarships and ProStart program support to help develop the future of America’s restaurant industry.

According to the National Restaurant Association, total restaurant and foodservice employment is projected to grow by 11 percent over the next 10 years, and the NRAEF is committed to ensuring it supports the development of a highly trained and professional talent pool to enhance the stature of the restaurant industry.

“The Foundation and our many supporters are proud to inspire a new generation of talent through scholarships and educational programs such as ProStart, which provides real-life opportunities for more than 90,000 high school students around the country,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president of philanthropic initiatives for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

“The restaurant industry is poised for significant growth and our focus is to attract, develop, and retain a career-oriented professional workforce and illustrate the range of opportunities this industry can provide,” he adds.

This year, through the donations of industry partners, the NRAEF provided much-needed support and scholarships to students and educators to feed their dreams and build their futures in the restaurant industry.

Specifically, the NRAEF and its academic partners awarded $1.4 million in scholarships to top management and culinary students at its National ProStart Invitational, the country’s premier competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts.

Additionally, $750,000 was awarded to state restaurant associations to support their state-level ProStart programs, which serve 90,000 students nationwide each year.  

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that unites the industry and the classroom to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant leaders.

The Foundation also distributed $1.1 million to fund 645 scholarships to students and educators to further their industry education. The NRAEF also enhanced the restaurant and educational skills of more than 200 high school educators that attended its Summer Institutes training workshops.

“Our heartfelt thanks goes out to our donors for their support this year. Their generosity allowed us to take the NRAEF to new heights,” Gifford says. “Through their continued support, we can continue to build a pipeline of talent, while celebrating the diverse opportunities created by the restaurant industry in 2013 and beyond.”