Changing Lives Through Restaurants

aka California Restaurant Foundation   |   Sacramento, CA   |


Mission: The California Restaurant Foundation cares for the people at the heart of California’s restaurant community. We create stability and economic mobility through relief grants, scholarships, and job-training. We’re changing lives through restaurants, but we need your help to do it. Join us.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Alycia Harshfield

Main address

621 Capitol Mall Ste 2000

Sacramento, CA 95814 USA

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Formerly known as

California Restaurant Association Foundation



NTEE code info

Employment, Job Related N.E.C. (J99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The California restaurant industry is large and diverse, employing 11% of the state’s workforce in 76,000 restaurants. Restaurants need a trained and supported workforce. The California Restaurant Foundation invests in the people at the heart of restaurants through scholarships, youth training programs, and a relief fund. California needs a thriving restaurant industry. Restaurants need a thriving workforce. That’s where we come in.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


ProStart provides economic mobility and opportunity to 13,500 teens annually through job-readiness training and career exploration. Together with our community and industry partners, we improve skill gaps, remove barriers to employment, and set students up for bright futures. We change lives through restaurants.

ProStart is a two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant entrepreneurship program. In California, the California Restaurant Foundation operates the ProStart program in 140 public high schools – reaching 13,500 students. Many of the schools we serve are under-resourced communities.

Key program elements include job training, a "Shark Tank" style competition for scholarships, school grants, professional development for educators, college access programs, and a leadership summit.

ProStart allows young people to discover their passions and excel in their careers.

Population(s) Served

The California Restaurant Foundation awards $100,000+ annually to California students pursuing two or four year degrees in culinary arts or hospitality management. CRF also manages scholarship funds for other restaurant organizations and nonprofits. Since 1981, we have helped make college a reality for over 1,000 students.

We are investing in the next generation of restaurant leaders.

Population(s) Served

Restaurants Care is a fund investing in California's food and beverage workers and independent restaurant owners.

Restaurants Care has been serving hope and stability to California restaurant workers since 2017. When wildfires swept through California, we mobilized. When the pandemic left the most vulnerable without resources, we stepped in. From illness to death in the family, to natural disasters, we’re here for our local food families. This relief fund is 100% powered by donations. Your donation is needed so struggling restaurant workers can buy groceries, pay rent, and stay afloat until they can get back to work.

In 2021, Restaurants Care introduced the Resilience Fund to provide resiliency-building grants to independent restaurants. To date, we've helped over 688 restaurants with grants.

Restaurants Care is California's only statewide relief fund for the restaurant community.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The California Restaurant Foundation changes lives through restaurants. Our three pillars are ProStart youth workforce development, scholarships, and the Restaurants Care relief fund. These pillars work together to provide stability and economic mobility to those at the heart of restaurants.

ProStart – ProStart, a culinary arts and restaurant entrepreneurship program in public high schools, empowers thousands of teens each year to be college-bound and career-ready. CA ProStart aims to provide teens with brighter futures.

Scholarships – Our robust merit-based scholarship program opens doors to college to promising students, many the first in the families to go to college. A college degree is the single most important factor to disrupting generational poverty, creating stability, and creating sustained change. Our scholarship program aims to create a new generation of leaders for California’s restaurant industry while creating brighter futures for students.

Restaurants Care – Restaurants Care is a direct relief to restaurant workers when life gets tough. Our goal is to provide a safety-net, stability, and a network of care for cooks, servers, dishwashers and more facing an unforeseen hardship.

The California Restaurant Foundation is a lean, innovative, and collaborative organization. We have a network of volunteers, corporate partners, small donors, community partners, and more that bring our mission to life through year-round services, grants, events, and trainings.

RESTAURANTS CARE STRATEGIES – offering hope and stability to California’s restaurant workers
•Relief fund. The Restaurants Care relief fund provides direct grants to restaurant workers to cover basic living expenses such as rent, groceries, and transportation as an individual navigates a crisis.
•Mental health resources. Restaurants Care works with community partners and health professionals on mental health webinars, workshops, and referrals for restaurant workers.
•Referral network. Restaurants Care manages a referral network for struggling restaurant workers. Resources include assistance for food, utilities, housing, medical, mental health, and more.

PROSTART STRATEGIES – empowering teens to be college-bound and career ready
•Professional development for educators. We empower teachers with training and resources to keep their classes aligned with industry. Regional workshops, virtual meetings, and multi-day conferences are hosted year-round.
•School grants. CRF provides grants to public schools to be used on uniforms, kitchen equipment, field trips, certifications, and more.
•FIT job-readiness training. We pair restaurant employers with a local high school to lead a training on resume writing, career mapping, and leadership.
•CA ProStart Cup. A culinary arts and restaurant entrepreneurship competition for teens statewide. Prizes for this rigorous competition include scholarships.
•Experience Hospitality. A leadership summit for ProStart students hosted in partnership with the California State University and the California Community College systems. The day features college access programming, tours of hospitality venues, and a networking lunch with restaurant leaders.
•Career Services for Life. ProStart students have access to trained volunteers who can assist with resume-refresh, mock interviews, and career mapping.

SCHOLARSHIP STRATEGIES – creating a new generation of restaurant leaders
•CRF manages a portfolio of endowments that power our annual scholarship fund.
•CRF partners with other organizations and corporations on white-label scholarship funds.
•CRF works with our higher education partners to promote scholarship opportunities to a diverse student population earning a credited two-and-four-year degrees.

We know restaurants. Since 1981, the California Restaurant Foundation has been investing in our restaurant workforce. We have a statewide network of restaurant operators, suppliers, philanthropists, educators, community partners, volunteers and our board of directors. At all times, our focus is on impact and efficiency. We are able to punch above our weight by leveraging our community’s talents and resources.

Our funding sources are diversified and growing. Our programs are powered by corporate partnerships, individual donors, fundraising events, philanthropic grants and cause-marketing campaigns.

Since 1981, we’ve changed thousands of lives for the better. We’ve opened doors to college for over 1,000 people – providing sustained economic mobility and resilience. Each year we provide job training to over 13,000 teens. For 75% of these students, ProStart is the only job training they receive in high school. Since 2017, we’ve given hope and stability to over 1,600 restaurant workers facing natural disasters, illness, a pandemic, and loss. Together these programs have created a stronger, more supported restaurant workforce in California.

Our organization is growing quickly. The Covid-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the Restaurants Care relief fund, and we foresee that program expanding to meet the incredible need facing our community. CA ProStart has adapted to distance and hybrid learning. We are innovating to keep students engaged in learning and connect to the restaurant industry through virtual tours, guest speakers, and trainings. The scholarship fund is also growing substantially each year thanks in large part to corporate partners investing in education for their crews. Our goal is to be the preeminent nonprofit for California’s restaurant community. Join us!

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 06/07/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Brett Berglund


Term: 2022 - 2023

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/12/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data