The Rachael Ray Foundation Selects Woodland Park High School to Receive a ProStart Grow Grant

2018 Colorado ProStart Invitational: Pictured left/right: Ameris James, Cora Schwester, Jalia Ball, Isabel Rossi, and Devon Olsen (Courtesy Photo)

Woodland Park High School will receive $5,000 in special funding to update and expand their ProStart program thanks to The Rachael Ray Foundation (RRF).


Through The Rachael Ray Foundation ProStart Grow Grants, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) will provide 27 grants, totaling $135,000, to ProStart schools that have demonstrated a strong need to engage and educate high school students interested in exploring restaurant and foodservice jobs and careers.  Woodland Park High School was selected as one of the 27 schools to receive $5,000 in funding for the initiative.


ProStart, a two-year career and technical education program focused on culinary arts and restaurant management, is offered in 1,700 schools across the country and currently enrolls 130,000 students. This school year, ProStart educators have largely adapted to the COVID19 restrictions with a mix of virtual and in-person learning, posing challenges for students to learn the hands-on skills the program often requires. Funding from the RRF ProStart Grow Grants will enable Woodland Park High School to purchase new equipment for the Culinary Arts Classroom.


“ProStart educators and students have persevered through this difficult year and are continuing to pursue their passions for restaurants and foodservice against all odds” said Rachael Ray, award-winning television personality and philanthropist. “RRF is proud to support their dreams to become future chefs and restaurateurs and provide them with the resources they need to be successful in their classrooms. We can’t wait to see what these students will accomplish.”


“It has been a huge blessing to have a program such as ProStart at WPHS, and I cannot imagine WPHS without it. Students come into the Culinary Program with little or no knowledge of the foodservice industry. Upon completing this program, they have more than just industry knowledge, but also understand Hospitality and Tourism and where it can take them after high school,” said Angie Cunningham, member of the WPHS FACS Dept. and ProStart Instructor.


“Becoming a member of the ProStart Program in 2016, I have begun the process of updating the kitchen classroom, providing industry field trips and state competitions for my students, scholarship and internship opportunities for my students, and it has allowed me to network with a lot of industry professionals,” continued Cunningham.


Winning schools awarded a ProStart Grow Grant were required to demonstrate how the program is positively impacting their students and the community. WPHS will be able to use their funds from RFF starting this year. “Through the RFF ProStart Grow Grant, I plan on using the awarded funds of $5,000 to continue the much-needed upgrades in my classroom kitchen and purchase additional tools and equipment to further student knowledge of the foodservice industry. My gratitude and appreciation for this program has been instrumental in my success as a teacher and the success of many students,” shared Cunningham.

2019 Colorado ProStart Invitational: Pictured left/right: Liam Johnston, Granger Kinne, Chef Dylan Montanio, Shayanne Christensen, Haley Prater, Jason Vanderkolk, Chef Chris Lerdall, and Chef Brian Blasnek (Courtesy Photo)

“I believe in my students being at the heart of my actions and decisions, and therefore, the relationships I have made with my students have been positive, productive, and collaborative.  I honestly believe in the famous quote, It takes a village to raise a child.  However, in my ProStart Program, I have changed it to fit our needs at WPHS. Because of the many opportunities provided by the NRAEF, the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Pikes Peak Colorado Restaurant Association, and so many other professionals being involved in my culinary program, I believe It takes a team to build a dream.”


Note: (There were no invitationals in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID.)

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF)

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF’s mission of service to the public 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 opportunity youth and justice-involved individuals 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 Rachael Ray Foundation (RRF)

RRF is a private foundation funded by a portion of the proceeds of each sale of Rachael Ray Nutrish®. The Foundation supports causes Rachael cares for most such as helping animals in need and working with organizations to support the “Cook, Feed & Fund” mission of Yum-o!, a non-profit formed by Rachael to empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. To learn more about The Rachael Ray Foundation please visit



About the Woodland Park School District Re-2

A Place of Becoming. Mission: Together, we embrace a culture where all learners are empowered to pursue intellectual, personal, and collective excellence.

Woodland Park School District Re-2, 155 Panther Way, Woodland Park, CO 80863. Phone: (719) 686-2000. Learn more at



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