The Coca-Cola Company Donates $1.5 Million to the NRAEF

Workforce Development, Restaurant Industry News,

Source: PR Newswire

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced today that The Coca-Cola Company has committed $1.5 million to support preparing the next generation of restaurant leaders for meaningful jobs and careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Coca-Cola has been a major NRAEF donor for the past 18 years, contributing a record total of $15 million.

The NRAEF thanks Coca-Cola for investing in preparing the next generation of restaurant leaders. Pictured here: ProStart students from New Jersey who traveled to Washington, D.C. to compete in the 2019 National ProStart Invitational.

The centerpiece of Coca-Cola's involvement with the Foundation is ProStart, a career and technical education program reaching 150,000 high school students pursuing careers in culinary arts and restaurant management. Each year, Coca-Cola helps the Foundation host the National ProStart Invitational and awards more than $100,000 in scholarships to the winning teams.

Coca-Cola has also offered internships to ProStart students, and hosted a first-ever virtual coaching session and competition this year where students showcased their presentation skills and competed for prizes. Earlier this year, in response to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on restaurant workers across the country, Coca-Cola generously donated to the NRAEF's Restaurant Employee Relief Fund which raised over $21.5 million dollars to provide restaurant workers $500 grants during the pandemic.   

"Our partnership with Coca-Cola has directly benefitted the lives of thousands of young people pursuing a future in our industry," said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. "Their renewed investment and support for our work, especially during such challenging times is truly remarkable. We look forward to continuing to work with Coca-Cola to open doors of opportunity for both today's and tomorrow's restaurant leaders."

"The NRAEF is at the forefront of attracting, empowering and advancing our industry's workforce," said Kristin Bitter, Vice President, Industry Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company. "Now more than ever, we need a well-trained, innovative and committed workforce that is prepared and ready to help the restaurant and foodservice industry get back on its feet. The Coca-Cola Company's purpose is to Refresh the World and Make a Difference. In this, we share the NRAEF's mission to change lives and uplift communities, and we are proud to be their top supporter."

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:  As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation 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 justice-involved youth 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 Coca-Cola Company: The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is a total beverage company, offering over 500 brands in more than 200 countries and territories. In addition to the company's Coca-Cola brand, our portfolio includes AdeS, Ayataka, Costa, Dasani, Del Valle, Fanta, Georgia, Gold Peak, Honest, innocent, Minute Maid, Powerade, Simply, smartwater, Sprite, vitaminwater and ZICO. We're constantly transforming our portfolio, from reducing sugar in our drinks to bringing innovative new products to market. We're also working to reduce our environmental impact by replenishing water and promoting recycling. With our bottling partners, we employ more than 700,000 people, helping bring economic opportunity to local communities worldwide. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.