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Founded 1988 (1988)
Founder David Lee
Type 501(c)(3)
Focus Homelessness
Coordinates 47°36′55″N 122°20′15″W / 47.615193°N 122.337471°W / 47.615193; -122.337471Coordinates: 47°36′55″N 122°20′15″W / 47.615193°N 122.337471°W / 47.615193; -122.337471
Area served
Seattle, Washington, USA
Services Vocational education, job placement
Website farestart.org
Guest Chef night

FareStart is a non-profit, social entrepreneurial organization in Seattle, Washington, USA, that operates a job placement and training program benefiting homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and youth. FareStart was started as a business that delivered meals to homeless shelters, whose founder, David Lee, later trained their clients to help prepare the food, which gave them the job skills they would need to find employment and stable housing. FareStart reports that 90% of adult students find jobs within 90 days of graduation.[1]

As of January 2007, the main FareStart Restaurant and the FareStart administrative offices moved from Downtown Seattle just east of the Pike Place Market, to its new home at the corner of Seventh Ave and Virginia Ave.

The FareStart Restaurant serves lunch Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Every Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m is the Guest Chef night, which features a three-course dinner, prepared by students under the supervision of a "guest chef" — a noted Seattle chef from another restaurant that volunteers their services to support the cause. Chefs have come from as far as the Rosario Resort on Orcas Island, but most are from restaurants in Seattle and King County, including Ray's Boathouse, Sky City at the Space Needle, Salty's on Alki, Elliott's Oyster House, and the Metropolitan Grill.

All revenue and gratuities from the restaurant support the job training and placement program. The sixteen-week hands-on training program includes a combination of culinary and life skills classes, preparing graduates for jobs and self-sufficiency. In 2011, FareStart was honored by the James Beard Foundation as their Humanitarian of the Year.

The FareStart Café in the Rainier Valley serves as on-the-job training site for youth enrolled in the Barista Training and Education Program, a collaborative effort between YouthCare and FareStart.

All profit generated by café goes directly towards the student training programs, as do all net profits from all FareStart businesses. Customers of the FareStart Café support the organization through their patronage, while also providing on-the-job experience for FareStart students. FareStart Café at 2100 opened on June 21, 2004 inside the 2100 Building The 2100 Building, located at 2100 24 th Ave. South (Rainier Valley). The café serves both the public and the non-profit tenants of the building, including Treehouse, which provides enrichment and educational services to foster children, The Mockingbird Society, Youth in Focus, Washington Women's Foundation and Northwest Children's Fund.

In addition to the food preparation training, FareStart provides job placement assistance, help finding housing if the student is not already staying at a homeless shelter, and continues working with the students after they start their new job to help them keep it.

FareStart also provides catering services, and the FareStart Restaurant is available for dinners, business meetings, and celebrations.

The FareStart Board and community have begun a movement to create a national network to enable best practice sharing among similar social entrepreneurial, food-based life skills training nationwide. In 2011, FareStart launched Catalyst Kitchens to help bring the success of FareStart to communities across the country. Catalyst Kitchens is a collaborative network of organizations with a vision to empower lives through job training, and self-generate revenue through social enterprise. Catalyst Kitchen's network members include Life's Kitchen (Boise, Idaho), Liberty's Kitchen (New Orleans, La.), Inspiration Corporation (Chicago, Ill.), and DC Central Kitchen (Washington, D.C.).[2]



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