New locations are the first in a long-term plan to reach 50 cities before 2050, transforming more than 200,000 lives over the next 30 years
DALLAS, Texas, April 28, 2021 – Café Momentum, an award-winning restaurant and culinary training facility based in Dallas that hires youth exiting juvenile detention and employs them as paid interns to run all aspects of the business, announced today the expansion of its innovative juvenile justice model to Nashville and Pittsburgh in 2021. The new restaurants will help up to 150 youth a year in each city not only stay out of the criminal justice system, but create lives of meaning and fulfillment.
The program’s expansion has been made possible by Stand Together Foundation, which recently invested $1.9 million with Momentum Advisory Collective (M.A.C.) to help scale the restaurant’s locally based internship program that equips the community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. In partnership with Stand Together Foundation and Café Momentum, Momentum Advisory plans to launch restaurants in 10 cities over the next five years, and in as many as 50 cities in the next 30 years.
Momentum Advisory envisions a country where the basic and socioemotional needs of youth are met; a county that understands that when children undergo trauma they need support, not incarceration; a country whose communities come together to support this vision.
Serving as a catalyst for change, M.A.C. is building clear pathways out of incarceration so today’s youth have access to resources, opportunity, and trauma-informed support so that future generations can thrive. Its strategy has the potential to dramatically decrease the number of youth caught in the cycle of incarceration, saving between $8 billion and $21 billion per year in government spending nationwide, based on research from the Justice Policy Institute.
“While focusing on creating additional programs and restaurants in new markets, we are simultaneously working to inspire a new juvenile justice system through awareness and advocacy for the young people we serve,” said Chad Houser, CEO, Momentum Advisory Co. “We want to move it away from a system that has disproportionately targeted and incarcerated youth of color and move it towards one that focuses on young peoples’ potential and understands the systemic factors that have placed them in their current life circumstances. In so doing, we create healing — not just for the individuals themselves but also for their communities and future generations.”
M.A.C. plans to open the restaurants in Nashville and Pittsburgh by close of 2021, pending any COVID-19 restrictions. To prepare for each grand opening, the team will be working to build out the spaces, hire and train local talent, secure additional funding, begin hosting pop-up events, and establish local partnerships as an ecosystem of support for the interns. All hires will be from local communities in Pittsburgh and Nashville with around 20 positions to be filled in each location, from hiring the executive directors and case managers to additional support to manage and run programming and operations for the restaurant.
Houser and Café Momentum have been featured on CNN, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, The Rachael Ray Show, The Steve Harvey Show and Good Morning America. Now, after six years refining its model in Dallas, M.A.C is ready to introduce Café Momentum’s transformative approach to new communities around the country. To share the impact more broadly and to further inspire a conversation around what juvenile justice should look like, Momentum Advisory will debut Building Momentum on June 1st, an original documentary featuring an in-depth look at the Momentum model for juvenile justice. In addition to the June 1 livestream, M.A.C. will be hosting private screenings to support their national expansion throughout 2021. Screening inquiries and further information can be found on the documentary’s website, BuildingMomentumFilm.com.
“The young people that Café Momentum trains and employs are often forgotten and failed by the very institutions that are supposed to serve them. The system officially calls these kids throwaways and insists that the only option is to lock them up over and over again,” said Evan Feinberg, Executive Director, Stand Together Foundation. “Café Momentum instead trusts these kids to run a top notch restaurant and they take tremendous pride in that accomplishment. Everyone should take the essence of this approach, believing in people and allowing them to discover their potential, and we’re working to make that happen.”
Chad Houser founded Café Momentum in 2015 after leaving his 17-year career as an award-winning chef and restaurateur to take an active role in helping solve the youth incarceration crisis. The United States has the highest rate of youth confinement of any developed country, with nearly 60,000 youth under age 18 in juvenile jails and prisons on any given day.
The first restaurant in Dallas pioneered a 12-month paid post-release internship program for young men and women exiting detention facilities, providing stable income and decreasing recidivism. Café Momentum has served over 1,000 youth since the restaurant opened—on average doubling teens’ household income and achieving a program recidivism rate nearly three times lower than the Texas state average.
To select new locations, M.A.C. looks for interest from local leaders and funders, a population of justice-involved youth eager for new opportunities, and a strong food scene. Its team also tested the Nashville market with a pop-up event in 2019 that put 10 teens through server training and gave them the opportunity to host a dinner for local lawmakers and NFL athletes. M.A.C. ultimately decided on Nashville and Pittsburgh as its first two expansion locations due to the community’s enthusiasm and support for the program, their reputations as “foodie” cities and, most importantly, the persistent challenge of youth incarceration in both metro areas..
About Momentum Advisory Collective
Momentum Advisory Collective (M.A.C.) envisions a country where the basic and socioemotional needs of our youth are met; a country that understands that when a child undergoes trauma, they need support, not incarceration; a country whose communities come together to support this vision. We believe that this can be a reality for young people nationwide. M.A.C. is building clear pathways out of incarceration so today’s most at-risk youth have access to resources, opportunity, and trauma-informed support such that they and their future generations can thrive, not just survive. Learn more at momentumadvisory.co.
About Café Momentum
Café Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility, transforms young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. Learn more at cafemomentum.org.
About Stand Together Foundation
Stand Together Foundation identifies, recruits, and cultivates a community of dynamic entrepreneurs who are leading a movement to break the cycle of poverty in America. We strategically partner with the country’s most innovative and effective nonprofits and invest in them through financial capital, management support, storytelling and other offerings to fuel their innovation and take their efforts to the next level. Our goal is to transform the social sector by helping nonprofit leaders maximize their impact, addressing persistent poverty through a deep belief in people and bottom-up solutions. Learn more at StandTogetherFoundation.org.