High school is meant to prepare students to move beyond books and daily lessons, supporting them in becoming confident individuals better prepared to move within a global society. While work-based learning is still in the wings of many school programs due to a lack of connections and interest from employers, this learning approach can allow high school students to explore various career options and build necessary skills. US Bank is helping lead the charge toward work-based learning and supports the California Restaurant Foundation’s “Experience Hospitality” initiative.

Powerful learning experiences occur while on the job, where employees actively build skills and gather necessary knowledge. The California Restaurant Foundation’s “Experience Hospitality” initiative recognizes the strength of work-based learning and, with the help of US Bank, is supporting job training for high school students who wish to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. 

California students enrolled in the state’s ProStart program, a two-year, industry-backed culinary arts and restaurant management program, are offered unique opportunities to explore the hospitality industry. They were provided the exclusive chance to tour the headquarters of a California-based hospitality company, ranging from iconic brands like Wienerschnitzel to the California beach hotel brand Pacifica Hotels. In addition to the tours, California students were treated to a lunch and the opportunity to hear from company founders, head chefs, presidents, and other executives in finance, marketing, and human resources – gaining knowledge from experts in the field that they can utilize on their hospitality career paths. 

The ProStart program is not just about tours and opportunities to hear from hospitality experts. It’s about real-life experience and mentorship. Recognizing that classroom experience is necessary to build the foundation of culinary and management skills, ProStart offers students the chance to learn how to be an industry professional through hands-on work under the guidance of a mentor. This unique approach ensures that students finish the ProStart program with theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and confidence to impact the industry and their lives.

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In Ventura, California, students could tour the offices of Urbane Café, a popular restaurant chain for gourmet sandwiches made from a hearth oven and fresh, healthy salads. Students met with the founder and CEO, Tom Holt, and a team of executives and employees. Holt shared with students the origins of the company and its founding principles, stating, “We strive for every customer that walks through our doors to leave with a fulfilling experience… That includes a healthy meal made with quality ingredients and an experience that makes them feel at home and want to come back and see us again.”

During the tours, students showed their support in person. They also had the opportunity to meet with a team of small business specialists from US Bank and learn what it takes to start a business. 

Since 2017, US Bank has been a pillar of support for the California Restaurant Foundation. Vice president and US Bank community affairs manager for California, Rockette Ewell, expressed the bank’s pride in supporting the Experience Hospitality program, stating, “US Bank’s support is instrumental in encouraging workforce development in California. Our team is passionate about sharing financial literacy insights with students and delighted to join them on the immersive and enriching behind the scenes tours. We believe these experiences will open new doors and broaden career horizons for these students, inspiring them to pursue their dreams in the hospitality industry.”