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IRA Educational Foundation



Committed to Developing Tomorrow’s Food Service Leaders Today!

The IRA Educational Foundation is dedicated to working with high school students to build the hospitality workforce through career exploration, workforce development and connections to post-secondary education.

Working with teachers, students and industry partners through the ProStart® program, the Foundation creates career pathways to post-secondary education and the workforce.


ProStart® Invitational

On Saturday, February 2, 2019, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) welcomed Culinary and Management teams comprised of high school ProStart® students from across the state to compete in the 18th Annual Illinois ProStart® Invitational, a full day of culinary and restaurant management competitions. The event, held at McCormick Place, was hosted by the IRAEF, Title Sponsor SYSCO-Chicago and Host Sponsor SAVOR...Chicago.

TCD and Woodruff Career Academy represented Illinois at the National ProStart® Invitational (in Washington, D.C.) where they competed against teams from 50 states (plus Guam & European military bases). For more information on the 2020 competition, click here.  The Illinois ProStart Invitational will take place this coming year on March 7, 2020 at McCormick Place.


Scholarship Application

Since its inception, the IRA Educational Foundation has awarded over $3 million to deserving students pursing Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management in college. The application for the 2020-2021 Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Scholarship is NOW OPEN!

For information about making a donation to the IRA Educational Foundation Scholarship Program, contact Kari Kramer at


Chef's Table

The 42nd annual restaurateurs event celebrates and honors the food service industry, allowing professionals to come together each fall. The proceeds from the evening benefit the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's scholarship initiative and ProStart® Program. Each year, with your support, the Educational Foundation awards scholarships to students interested in the restaurant/hospitality industry. To date, over $3 Million in scholarships have been awarded.

Tickets and more information available here. Register by November 1, 2019.




Get Involved!

For more information about hiring ProStart® students and supporting our future industry leaders, click here or contact ProStart Manager, Kari Kramer at or (312) 380-4147. 



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