From prison system to restaurant industry: EDWINS in Cleveland helps create second chances

EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio demonstrates how developing skill sets and providing a supportive environment can open doors to economic opportunity and set individuals on a new path to success. EDWINS empowers formerly incarcerated adults as they transition into the next phase of their lives through culinary education and additional support services, such as employment opportunities and housing. Founded in 2007, the organization runs a French restaurant staffed by graduates of its restaurant and hospitality training program, based in Cleveland's Shaker Square neighborhood, and a program in partnership with the Grafton Correctional Institution. Students of the training program also have access to legal services, basic medical care, clothing, job coaching and literacy programs.

In 2016, EDWINS was named a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder®. As a Neighborhood Builder award recipient, EDWINS received $200,000 in flexible grant funding and leadership development and training for an executive director and an emerging leader at the organization. The unrestricted grant funding gave EDWINS the power to complete the Second Chance Life Skills Center, a 20,000-square foot campus for work, recreation and student housing. This facility quickly became a refuge for students who were homeless or struggling in unstable and unsafe living environments.

"The Bank of America Neighborhood Builders award changed the dynamic in which our student body can learn," said Brandon Chrostowski, EDWINS Founder, President and CEO. By being able to offer safe housing and a day-to-day setting for students, EDWINS is putting into action its founding principle that "every human being regardless of their past has the right to a fair and equal future."

Today, EDWINS continues to be a force for positive change and opportunity throughout Cleveland. With 262 graduates to date, EDWINS has a 97% post-graduation employment rate with only 1.1% recidivism, as compared to the national average of 44% recidivism. EDWINS has also expanded its outreach to prisons via Culinary Clubs and is in the process of opening the EDWINS Butcher Shop and Training Center to provide more opportunities for individuals in the area's prison system to gain the skills they need to be successful.

Since 2004, Bank of America's Neighborhood Builders program has helped advance sustainable communities by investing more than $220 million in 49 communities - partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders and counting.

Learn more about how the Neighborhood Builders program helps nonprofit partners advance economic mobility and supports skills development for nonprofit leaders, powering nonprofits like EDWINS to build thriving communities.

Originally published 10/30/2018

Explore more

Mural showing two women and a baby

Expanding opportunity and strengthening communities in Kansas City

See how Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program helps nonprofits address critical needs.
Sign of Cuyahoga Community College

Creating access and opportunity in Cleveland

See how Bank of America’s partnership with Cuyahoga Community College is helping adults earn a high school diploma and industry credential.
Neighborhood Builders Awardee Luz Urrutia

Meet a Neighborhood Builders® Advancing Social Equality Award winner External link, opens in a new tab

Silicon Valley’s Luz Urrutia is CEO of Accion Opportunity fund (AOF), the nation’s leading nonprofit providing small businesses with access to capital, networks, and coaching.
showing element 1 of 3