The Metro Area’s disconnected and underserved Opportunity Youth are young adults ages 18-24 that are not in school investing in their own value and not at work developing skills and experience. Each of these youth has a unique reason for disconnection that parallel national disparities for low-income, youth of color, LGBTQ, immigrant and youth with disabilities; However, one theme is common among all – it is increasingly difficult to navigate the path from school to work.


Over the past decade, Oregon policy-makers have directed funding to get more students into college, while cutting funding for vocational and job training curriculums for students that don’t fit the college mold. This approach leaves the Metro Area, along with much of the state and nation facing parallel challenges: insufficient skilled workers and high unemployment rates among young adults.

Talent is Universal. Opportunity is not

In a world of institutional segregation where opportunities are less prevalent and attainable for disconnected youth, Opportunities Kitchen bridges the gap to guide our youth on a path to discover their unlimited potential. The journey begins at the epicenter of every humans’ basic need for food, the kitchen. When we break bread with our students we break down the barriers and give everyone equal footing. It is the simplest of gestures but unleashes the most complex of bonds by instilling a sense of family, community and belonging. Fundamental kitchen techniques are introduced to build confidence and self-accountability skills. From there our unique hands-on approach allows our students to visualize their future when we venture outside the kitchen to the job sites and facilities that power the food industry. Upon completion of our program we empower our students by building relationships with our understaffed regional partner employers.