A highly-awarded restaurant in Dallas is giving justice-involved youth the recipe for success. 

The MISSION of Cafe Momentum is to transform young lives by equipping justice-involved youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. 

Why is it important?

Cafe Momentum is essentially a classroom, proudly serving fresh, locally sourced, sophisticated American cuisine in the heart of downtown Dallas. Each and every meal is prepared and served by an award-winning team of chefs and the young men and women involved in the program. Each and every meal is prepared and served by an award-winning team of chefs and the young men and women involved in the program.

While Interns are working on providing thoughtful farm-to-table dishes with top-notch service, they’re also learning that they can (and will) rise to whatever level of expectation is set for them.

While you’re enjoying the results of their hard work and determination, you’re also sending them a message that you believe in them. The Café Momentum experience proves that something as simple as breaking bread can change the lives of our community’s most marginalized youth.

Cafe Momentum is a nonprofit venture that employs justice-involved youth and pays them fairly, living wages to help teach them life skills, leadership, and, of course, how to work in a restaurant. Because of the employees' fair wages, any tips left behind are considered donations to the mission. 

Since 2015, Café Momentum has served more than 1,000 youth in Dallas, Texas, through its paid internship program with a 12-month curriculum. This program is helping Café Momentum interns break the cycle of incarceration, with recidivism rates 1/3 the state average.

In addition, 88 percent of interns were enrolled in high school, had graduated, or achieved their GED, over 85 percent were in compliance with court orders, and 100 percent had a bank account enabling future ability to finance or receive credit, compared to the 25% who had a bank account upon entering the program. Lastly, 77 percent are voluntarily receiving counseling (100% of the interns entering our program had at least one Adverse Childhood Experience in their history). 

How do they do it?

The Café Momentum internship works in conjunction with the Juvenile Justice Department to provide Dallas teens 15-19 (also Nashville and Pittsburgh locations) paid internships and workforce development set in the highly awarded Café Momentum restaurant. In addition to learning all stations of a working restaurant, interns receive full wraparound care that includes case management support to re-enroll in an accredited education program or our on-site homeschool program, address critical housing, food, and medical needs, and access counseling with Café Momentum's full-time licensed psychologist, among other services.

The secret behind Café Momentum’s success is the Momentum model for juvenile justice. The Momentum model offers an ecosystem of support, including educational and financial literacy, paid workforce development training, life skills and social skills training. Because of this wraparound support, interns can build strong foundations to get their education back on track and gain financial stability. Café Momentum’s success in Dallas has transformed the lives of justice-involved youth and every customer that eats at their restaurant. As interns interact with the customers, bridges are created and mutual respect is built.

How you can #TravelKindly: 
  • Choose  Cafe Momentum as your local charity when you book your hotel with Kind Traveler.
  • Enjoy dinner at the award-winning Cafe Momentum! By dining at Café Momentum, patrons provide hope, confidence, and motivation.
  • Pick up some shirts, hats, and other goodies from the cafe Momentum shop. All proceeds benefit the Café Momentum program
  • Stop by for the popular monthly Sunday Supper Concert Series. Enjoy awesome musical guests and a 3-course dinner prepared by the amazing chefs and Cafe Momentum interns. Chefs craft a one-time-only menu based on the artists' favorite foods and you get to enjoy it while they perform.
  • Check out the Building Momentum Documentary to see how the plan came to be

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