Raelynn Grogan

Senior Director

DRA Educational Foundation

Click to contact Raelynn


Ruthann Messick

Workforce Development Coordinator

DRA Educational Foundtion

Click to contact Ruthann

The Need for Workforce Development + Expanding Pipelines

Founded in 2014, the DRAEF ‘s mission is “to create career opportunities and to develop training initiatives for the communities we serve by dedicating ourselves to Delaware’s youth and workforce.” We wish to connect opportunity youth, justice-involved, people from all backgrounds, to hospitality programs and credentials to become employed in Delaware restaurants…where participants will earn a paycheck and valuable skills training from day one! The DRAEF has a strong partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, and our state department of correction, labor, and education to make this all happen! 

Prior to the pandemic, the restaurant and food service industry was a major economic driver in Delaware. Across 2,000 locations, the industry employed 50,000 residents, representing 11% of the state’s workforce (National Restaurant Association).  While COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Delaware restaurants and workers, DRAEF anticipates a tightened labor market as restaurants reopen.  Early indicators show that the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing recruitment and retention challenges.  Workers are experiencing heightened perceptions of instability and competition with other sectors.  As a result, restaurants, and food service operations are struggling to attract qualified talent.  Now more than ever, DRAEF’s employers are looking to access strong talent pipelines and to ensure that workers have relevant skills for the post-pandemic workforce.  

Current DRAEF Workforce Development Training + Program Offerings

Delaware ProStart Program (click here to learn more)

How to Get Involved with DE ProStart:

-If you wish to be connected to a ProStart Program School/Facility in your area, contact Raelynn directly at raelynn@delawarerestaurant.org.

-Sponsor/Attend the upcoming 2023 Delaware ProStart Student Invitational that will be taking place on Friday, March 10th, 2023 from 8am-4pm at Bally’s Dover Casino Resort. Contact Raelynn directly for any of the following options.

  • If interested in Sponsoring this event.
  • If interested in purchasing an Exhibitor Booth($150/booth).  You will get to network with the top ProStart Students coming from up and down the state. We are inviting College, Military, Restaurants, and Allied Members! Each booth is allowed up to two attendees (food and beverage comped).
  • If interested in donating Prizes for the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Place Winners (gift cards, swag, etc…).

Restaurant Ready

How to Get Involved with Restaurant Ready:

-Interested in learning more or becoming a Community Based Organization Partner? Reach out to Ruthann directly at ruthann@delawarerestaurant.org.

Restaurant Youth Registered Apprenticeship (RYRA) Program

How to Get Involved with RYRA:

-Interested in learning more or attending an upcoming Monthly Advisory Committee Meeting to hear from our current partners? Reach out to Raelynn directly at raelynn@delawarerestaurant.org.

HOPES (Hospitality Opportunities for People ReEntering Society) Pathway Home Initiative 

How to Get Involved with HOPES Pathway Home:

Interested in hiring a HOPES Participant. Please complete the Employer Google Form Link to DRA Survey: https://forms.gle/zCU1RgqHcUiQKCwL6

-Interested in learning more or attending an upcoming Monthly Advisory Committee Meeting to hear from our current partners? Reach out to Raelynn directly at raelynn@delawarerestaurant.org.

Free Industry Training Provided by American Rescue Plan Act Fund Dollars:

The Delaware Restaurant Association is excited to offer 11 Industry-focused training courses for individuals looking to enhance their skills and stay current on the latest restaurant industry information and mandated training – offered free of charge for those who live or work in Delaware! The ‘Forward Delaware 2.0’ initiative is designed to rebuild Delaware’s workforce by providing rapid skills training to those looking to re-enter the workforce or enhance their employment opportunities. This free industry training tuition is being provided by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

Free Industry Training Link: https://drapromos.com/

Available Courses:
ServSafe Food Protection (Manager Course & Exam)
ServSafe Food Handler
ServSafe Allergen
ServSafe Sexual Harassment Prevention (Manager)

ServSafe Sexual Harassment Prevention (Employee)

ServSafe Understanding Unconscious Bias (Manager)

ServSuccess – Restaurant Professional
ServSuccess – Restaurant Supervisor
ServSuccess – Restaurant Manager

AHELI – Guest Service Gold: Golden Opportunities

AHELI – Guest Service Gold: Tourism

AHLEI – START Front Desk Representative

AHLEI – START Guestroom Attendant

AHLEI – START Maintenance Employee

AHLEI – START Restaurant Server

AHELI – START Kitchen Cook

AHLEI – Breakfast Attendant

Please note, we will be offering access to these free training credentials until December 2024. Sometimes there might not be courses available, please check back within 48-72 hours to allow us time to purchase and upload new codes. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!