Work Options for Women (WOW) has been helping hard-to-employ individuals overcome personal barriers and obtain employment in the food service industry for more than 20 years. In 1997, a social worker began what is now known as WOW by starting a culinary job-training program to help disadvantaged women obtain entry-level employment in food service.
Over the years, we expanded our job-training program to better address the changing needs of students. Today, we provide culinary skills training plus opportunities to practice appropriate workplace skills and behaviors, job-readiness training, holistic support/case management services, and opportunities to earn advanced, industry-recognized certifications. In short, we not only prepare disadvantaged workers to obtain entry-level employment, we work to ensure that graduates have the culinary skills, job-readiness and life skills and ongoing support needed to retain sustainable employment and pursue a permanent career.
In 2018, we expanded our target population to serve disadvantaged individuals in the community and ex-offenders. We now offer culinary skills training at our existing cafes and at a halfway house for people in the process of re-entry. We provide programming onsite at the halfway house using our new mobile culinary classroom (a self-contained kitchen/classroom, similar to a 20’ food truck, that can be towed to various locations). In 2017, WOW was the only Denver agency selected to receive substantial funding from Impact 100 Denver Metro; these grant funds were used to purchase the mobile culinary classroom and expand our target population.