NC Hospitality Education Foundation and the Darden Foundation Partner to Create Opportunities and Change Lives

NC Hospitality Education Foundation (NC HEF), announced it has been selected to receive a $6,000 grant as part of the inaugural Restaurant Community Grant Program from the Darden Foundation, the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants Inc. The Restaurant Community Grant Program is a local grants program intended to help support nonprofit organizations in the hundreds of communities Darden and its restaurant brands serve. The donation will enable NC HEF’s project to provide access to post-secondary education to students who are underserved and financially unable to realize their dream of a college education as they pursue a career in the hospitality workforce in North Carolina.

Restaurants within the Darden family – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 – are helping to award more than $1.7 million in local grants to nearly 900 exceptional nonprofit organizations nationwide. Nonprofits receiving grants support one of Darden’s three key focus areas: access to postsecondary education, preservation of natural resources and hunger.

“Without the opportunities afforded to us by this generous grant from the Darden Restaurant Community Grants Program, NC HEF would not be able to make a strong impact in the future of the hospitality industry in North Carolina. Helping students realize their dreams of a future in the best industry to work in is extremely fulfilling” stated Alyssa Barkley, Executive Director of NC HEF.

“Each grant is not just a check – it is an opportunity to make an impact, from providing essential supplies to food banks in Oregon, to mentoring students in Phoenix and enhancing access to college education in North Carolina” said Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Darden Restaurants, Inc. “Our service philosophy extends far beyond the walls of our restaurants. These grants bring that philosophy to life by helping to develop a better future for those we serve, one community at a time.”

On Tuesday, May 15th at 10:00 am, a check presentation and celebration will take place at the LongHorn Steakhouse at Brier Creek in Raleigh. Students and educators from the ProStart Program at Cary High School, members of the NC HEF Board of Trustees and Representatives from the granting Darden restaurants will be on hand for the celebration.