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Forge City Works

Program Name: Culinary and Customer Service Job Training at Forge City Works

Forge City Works (FCW) uses food to change lives, build community and create opportunities. Founded in 2007 as Billings Forge Community Works, we provide culinary and customer service job training. Our job training program prepares low-income residents with barriers to employment for jobs each year, focusing on both soft skills and technical culinary skills, and then connects them to jobs. In 2023, we completed a theory of change workshop that modified implementation and has improved outcomes.

Participants start in cohorts of about 12 people. In Level 1, trainees work 20-25 hours per week at minimum wage until they demonstrate that they have demonstrated sustained proficiency of both technical job skills and soft skills. Staff provide daily feedback to participants on both kinds of skills. Soft skills, such coming to work on time, accepting constructive criticism, and interpersonal skills, are often what prevent people from keeping a job. Participants learn food preparation, speed of production, and food safety, and earn the industry-standard ServSafe Food Handler certification, which increases their employability. They cycle through shadow shifts working alongside employees in a wide range of positions. When participants demonstrate proficiency of skills—including soft skills like reliability and emotional regulation—they can move to Level 2. Level 1 usually takes usually after 16-20 weeks.

Level 2 training is an internship at a job function that interests them at our social enterprise or at an employer partner for 8 weeks. This helps them understand the institutional or restaurant environment and to build their work history. This provides a real-world work experience for the trainee and for the employer, an opportunity to test out a potential hire. For participants for whom we do not have an appropriate internship, they are eligible for Learn to Earn for 8 weeks, where they continue to earn wages for completion of job search and professional development activities, under the direction of our Employment Specialist. In Level 2, we help participants find, win, and keep a job that they want. Our Job Navigator remains in touch with participants and employers, smoothing the transition to the workforce and helping find new jobs as needed. We provide ongoing support to graduates when they need to find a new job.

In 2024 the enrollment dates are March, July and September.

In 2025 the enrollment dates are January, March, July and September

Supports Available Through Program: Participants get customized supports through coaching, case management, instruction and mentoring. Much is referred out to community partners.

Contact Details

Program Lead Point of Contact: Rebecca McGuigan

Executive Director

Location Address
539 Broad St, Hartford, CT 06106

Program Details

Career Continuum Program Level: Career Preparation

Badges/Credentials Offered: Mentoring / Guidance, Work-Based Learning / On-the-Job Training (Paid), Internship (Unpaid), Certificate - Industry/Sector-Based


Length of Program: 16-24 weeks, support for additional 12 months post program.

Target Population: Age - 18 and over, Out-of-School Youth (OY), Returning Citizens, Justice-Involved Youth, Hartford Resident, Homeless and Housing Insecurity, Gender - Male, Gender - Female, LGBTQIA

Target Population Gender: TBD

Eligibility Requirements: Age - 18 and over, Target Population - Out-of-School Youth (OY), Target Population - Hartford Resident

Residency Eligibility Requirements: Hartford Resident, Blue Hills, Northeast, North Meadows, West End, Upper Albany, Clay Arsenal, Asylum Hill, Downtown, Parkville, Frog Hollow, South Green, Sheldon Charter Oaks, Behind the Rocks, Barry Square, South Meadows, Southwest, South End

Service Type: Career Competency Training, Financial Literacy Education, Follow-up Services, Guidance and Counseling, Individual Service Strategy, Integrated Education and Training, Job Development and Support, Occupational Skills Training, Work experience

Sector: Culinary

Schedule (When is your program offered?): 7 days a week, 7 am- 9pm. Flexibility required by participant to get most out of experience. Schedule changes in the different phases of the program.

Capacity for Each Implementation (Target Number): 12

Website/Marketing Materials for Program

Marketing Materials Downloads:

FCW Job Training Flyer 2024 Updated - 1
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