The Rachael Ray Foundation and Yum-o! Organization Offers Dalhart and Rio Vista High Schools Opportunity to Ramp Up ProStart

Feb 27
Rachael Ray

AUSTIN, TX – Dalhart High School and Rio Vista High School are two of eight schools across the country selected to receive special funding to upgrade and expand their ProStart programs thanks to $425,000 in grants from The Rachael Ray Foundation (RRF) and Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! Organization.

Through The Rachael Ray Foundation and Yum-o! Organization Grow Grants, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) will provide funding for eight ProStart schools that are offering the program in an effort to engage and educate high school students interested in exploring restaurant and foodservice careers.

Dalhart High School, located in Dalhart, Texas, 80 miles north of Amarillo, was selected to receive $90,000 in funding for the initiative.

“We are honored and extremely excited to be receiving this grant,” said Stephanie Ellis, culinary arts teacher at Dalhart High School. “Giving my students a foundation that will last a lifetime is something that is very important to me. Implementing ProStart in our school will give each student an opportunity to learn and grow in something that will make an impact on their entire lives. I can’t wait to see the great things that come from this opportunity.”

Rio Vista High School in Rio Vista, Texas, 40 miles south of Fort Worth, was selected to receive $42,500 in funding for the initiative.

Charles Mims, Principal at Rio Vista High School, said he made it his goal as principal to help improve and grow their career & technology education (CTE) programs. “Our culinary teacher has done a marvelous job of recruiting students and convincing them that learning culinary skills is important,” said Mims. “As a result, our culinary program has shown the greatest growth out of all of our CTE programs.  It is imperative that we provide our students with a kitchen that closely resembles what is the current industry-standard. This grant will provide the necessary funding to begin the process of converting our kitchen."

“The spirit and generosity of The Rachel Ray Foundation will make a direct impact on the lives of students studying culinary arts,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “Every student deserves the opportunity to participate in world class career and technical education, and these grants will not only provide much needed resources, they will also serve as an important investment into the future of our industry. This is a great day for two of our Texas high schools and the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF).”

ProStart, a two-year career and technical education program focused on culinary arts and restaurant management, is offered in 1,900 schools across the country and currently enrolls 150,000 students. In Texas, more than 175 schools offer ProStart to 15,000 students in the state.

Dalhart High School plans to implement the full ProStart education program and outfit their classroom with better equipment. At Rio Vista High School, the current home economics kitchen will be converted into an industrial, restaurant-style kitchen, thanks to The Rachael Ray Foundation’s grant.

“I am thrilled to see the incredible stories of these schools, these students and these teachers,” said Rachael Ray, award-winning television personality and philanthropist. “They’re already doing amazing work every day – and they’re all deserving of the opportunity to do even more. I can’t wait to see what we’re able to cook up with these students!”

Winning schools awarded a ProStart Grow Grant were required to demonstrate how the program is positively impacting their students and the community. Texas is the only state with two high schools winning the grant. The other six winning schools include:

“The ProStart Grow Grant initiative is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the winning schools and for ProStart on a larger scale,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “With these grants, we can introduce more students to careers in restaurants and hospitality, expand their learning to real-world experiences and grant them the chance to explore a future that is truly limitless.”

Dalhart and Rio Vista high schools will be able to use their funds from the Rachael Ray Foundation and Yum-o! Organization starting this year. To stay connected to their renovations and expansion plans, follow Rio Vista’s Twitter, Dalhart’s Twitter, and the NRAEF’s ProStart channels on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn using the hashtag #ProStartGrowGrant.

About the Texas Restaurant Association
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $66 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 48,000 locations and a workforce of 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association represents, educates and, promotes the growing industry.  

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s mission of service to the public is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to Attract, Empower and Advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce. NRAEF programs include: ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready – partnering with community based organizations to provide opportunity youth and justice-involved individuals with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and, the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship project – a partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association providing a hospitality apprenticeship program for the industry. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

About The Rachael Ray Foundation
The Rachael Ray Foundation(tm) is a private foundation funded by a portion of the proceeds of each sale of Rachael Ray(tm) Nutrish®. The Foundation supports causes Rachael cares for most such as helping animals in need and working with organizations to support the “Cook, Feed & Fund” mission of Yum-o!, a non-profit formed by Rachael to empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. To learn more about The Rachael Ray Foundation please visit


Anna Tauzin
Texas Restaurant Association

Jasmine Jones


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