Chatham University’s new baker training program rising up, thanks to grant

By Mary Pickels, Staff Writer

This article was originally published on

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Chatham University is creating a new baker training program combining practical instruction and education. The effort is a collaboration of its Center for Regional Agriculture, Food and Transformation and Community Kitchen Pittsburgh.

A pilot cohort, expected to be a 12 to 14 week commitment, will launch in May.

A $215,000 funding grant from Bank of America is enabling the new effort, which targets entrepreneurial development and strategic food systems planning.

"This innovative program supports entrepreneurial and workforce development, while driving sustainability, in our regional food system. It's another demonstration of our commitment to drive economic mobility in our community," says Brian Ludwick, Bank of America Pittsburgh market president.

The bank's community needs assessment has determined, Ludwickadds, a "real shortage of workers in the food service industry."

Workforce training

"Students can earn a vocational education certificate through Community Kitchen Pittsburgh and/or college credit through Chatham University," says Cassandra Malis, CRAFT program manager, in an email.

"CRAFT's mission centers around creating a robust regional food system, which means developing an educated and skilled workforce and increased economic opportunity. CRAFT also works to improve and democratize food education," Malisadds.

Students completing the program will receive assistance with finding industry positions paying fair wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement.

"We envision students who are interested in developing skills for good jobs in the baking industry, students who would like to start their own business, students looking to fulfill college credit requirements and students interested in learning more about the industry," Malisadds.

Ongoing investment

Bank of America's investment is part of an ongoing relationship with the university, Ludwicksays. "Our community needs assessment really informs how we invest in communities we are a part of." he says.

Earlier Bank of America grants involved Chatham's Falk School of Sustainability and the Environment students working with faculty and the Homewood Children's Village. Projects addressed building stewardship of community resources, expanding awareness of issues surrounding food access, systematizing air quality data collection and conducting a workshop and survey.


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