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, March 7, 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 19th 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.

Technology Center of DuPage, and Woodruff Career Academy finished in First place in Culinary and Management respectively.  Congratulations to you and all the students that worked hard to compete in Invitational.

Culinary Competition:

1st Place:  TCD

2nd Place:  Rolling Meadows HS

3rd Place:  Woodruff Career & Technical Academy


Management Competition:

1st Place:  Woodruff Career & Technical Academy

2nd Place:  Oswego High School

3rd Place:  TCD

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 Kristen Hodges at





Get Involved!

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



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