FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. FareStart's services target some of our community's highest-risk and hardest-to-serve residents. All are homeless or at risk of homelessness; most face challenges such as addiction, mental illness, and domestic violence; and many have been incarcerated—though all share the goal of creating a better life. Since 1992, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 6,500 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 5.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

Mission Statement
FareStart provides a community that transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry.
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700 Virginia St 
(206) 443-1233 

Megan Karch 
Chief Executive Officer 


FareStart Programs

FareStart's Adult Training Program works to build a strong foundation and support system for every student who passes through our doors. The intensive 16-week program combines hands-on food-service training with classroom instruction, individual case management and job placement services. The program prepares homeless and disadvantaged men and women for jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industry and, through our graduate support services, helps them to keep those jobs and move toward self-sufficiency by assisting them in securing living wage jobs and permanent housing. Support and services for our adult students last for approximately one year, and graduates are welcome to return for continued job retention and housing services indefinitely.

In the first phase of their training, FareStart’s adult students work in the contract meal program, producing more than 550,000 meals each year for area shelters and low-income day care centers throughout the community.

FareStart's Barista Training & Education Program was launched in 2003 and is a collaborative effort with YouthCare, providing at-risk youth, ages 16-23, with the opportunity to build a better future for themselves by increasing their ability to develop a supportive community, reconnect with family, and pursue educational or employment goals. This eight-week program provides job training and placement assistance, life skills classes, employment counseling, and both classroom and on-the-job training.


Recent Successes and Current Challenges

FareStart was honored to receive the 2011 James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian Award. This prestigious, national award is given to “an individual or organization working in the realm of food that has given selflessly and worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and society at large.”

This amazing recognition reflects FareStart’s dramatic growth in size and influence in recent years, particularly with the launch of Catalyst Kitchens, a nationwide network of food-service social enterprise organizations. This network, now with 40 member programs, began by using FareStart as a model, and is enabling FareStart to exponentially leverage our impact on a national level.

As state-sponsored “safety nets” such as Disability Lifeline cash and medical benefits decrease and the number of people in poverty increases, FareStart is striving to increase the impact of our programs to help meet the community’s growing need for support. FareStart is in the process of increasing its capacity and its training opportunities to provide a full range of services the greater numbers of disadvantaged individuals who will enroll in 2013 and into the future.

Donations to FareStart this year will go directly to helping us expand capacity to serve more individuals who want the opportunity to change their lives. An investment in FareStart not only transforms lives, it and starts a ripple that creates a wave of positive social impact in our community.


FareStart provides hands-on training and economic opportunities to homeless and low income people. Students are given access to a marketable job skill regardless of their past educational achievement. Graduates have an opportunity to move from a situation of homelessness and poverty to one in which they have employment, the potential for career advancement, and opportunities to access permanent housing. This training approach is strengthened by individualized case management, job search support, transportation and transitional housing support, and milestone incentives to help ensure completion.

Proven Success
FareStart has a strong track record in the community and their outcomes continue to improve. Over the last three years FareStart has individually consulted and referred nearly 2,000 individuals looking for a pathway out of homelessness. Since the end of 2009, graduate job placement rates have risen over 25%. FareStart ended 2010 with a graduate job placement rate of 82%. Nearly 80% of those graduates were still employed after three months.

Best Practices
FareStart’s model is nationally recognized. They have partnered with organizations around the country to disseminate their knowledge and have help launch twenty five similar programs. FareStart acts as the hub for Catalyst Kitchens, a national collaborative where organizations share strategies and best practices. Through this collaborative, FareStart is able to refining their programming through learning from others as well as share their nearly two decades of experience.

FareStart serves a diverse population of homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and youth in need of training and assistance to achieve basic stability and enter the job market. FareStart’s services helps students address the multiple barriers they face to employment including: criminal history, substance addiction, mental illness, domestic violence and limited education. Working with a difficult to serve population makes retaining students and helping them toward successful graduation and employment extremely complex. FareStart does not pre-qualify students and has staff in place dedicated to addressing and removing these barriers.

FareStart has created a strong network of partnerships to meet the needs of their students. These partners include: shelter and housing providers, social services agencies, healthcare providers, youth development organizations, and food services organizations.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

9/10/2011 $40,000.00support general operating expenses.
12/10/2008 $45,000.00support general operating expenses.
12/14/2006 $30,000.00support general operating expenses.
12/16/2004 $75,000.00support the capital campaign.


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