ProStart School-to-Career Program

Back to homepage


The restaurant industry is known as the Nation’s training ground, and it is.  Nearly half of all Americans have worked in the restaurant industry at some time in their lives.

As the state’s leading solutions for development and training we’re excited about introducing young people to amazing careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry. We support ProStart, a school-to-career program, in more than 50 schools throughout Washington.

ProStart is a special program for high school students that gives our young people the opportunity to learn about the art of cooking and managing restaurants by training with professional chefs and getting valuable classroom instruction. It’s also a way to earn college credit and make money while they’re in high school.

National Certificate of Achievement

The National ProStart Certificate of Achievement is awarded to students who have successfully completed the ProStart program (by meeting all the requirements). Students receive their certificate by:

  • Taking the ProStart classes and passing the national exams for both Year 1 and Year 2
  • Working in a restaurant or other food service job, clocking 400 paid hours
  • Having their work supervisor complete the ProStart Workplace Checklist
  • All of the above must be validated and coordinated through their high school in order to receive the certification

Mentors are critical to our industries future

As with many programs a key component of the learning experience is the connection between the student and those who are already working in the field. We are an advocate of this philosophy and have incorporated a mentor program and an intern element of the ProStart curriculum. Our mentors have made a significant impact on lives and their business have thrived as a result.

About being a mentor

Mentors come from a variety of backgrounds, time commitment levels and businesses. Typically mentors break down into two different categories, culinary and management, just like our ProStart program. Expertise can range from marketing and business skills to culinary techniques and menu engineering.

Mentorship takes form in a variety of ways as well. A mentor can focus on helping the students prepare for competition, or smaller ongoing mentorship could include the following:

  • Hosting a tour of your business or your vendor’s facilities
  • Inviting the students to work/intern at your business
  • Visiting the school or speaking to students in a relevant setting
  • Offering focused introduction or training in specific tasks or processes such as cheese-making/tasting, pastry arts, vegetarian menus, sustainability, menu costing, or your areas of expertise.

Thinking about becoming a mentor? Great! Just email us at and we’ll get you connected.