Work Options was founded in 1997 as Work Options for Women, when federal legislation aimed at reducing welfare rolls made it clear that without a successful job-training program hundreds of Denver-area women and their children would become homeless. At that time, there existed no programs in the city capable of bridging the gap between the federal requirements and the lack of realistic job opportunities for people with little to no work experience. In 2021 Work Options for Women officially became Work Options - a name modification that more accurately reflects our commitment to serve all people, regardless of gender identity or expression.
Work Options' students receive hands-on culinary skills training from a team of professional chefs, supportive services from Employment Specialists who create an individualized employment plan to help each student overcome barriers that may be holding them back from finding or maintaining employment. Upon training completion, students are guided through job search and become a program graduate after 90 days of employment.
In 1999, Work Options was awarded the concessionaire's contract for the Richard T. Castro Denver Human Services (DHS) building at 1200 Federal Blvd. in Denver. We have since trained thousands of Coloradans in the kitchen at DHS. With DHS closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, Work Options students have been preparing healthy, delicious, emergency meals for individuals and families in need in the Denver metro area. To date, Work Options has prepared and delivered over 100,000 emergency meals to the community.
In 2018, Work Options revolutionized our training program by building a Mobile Culinary Classroom. This 28-foot trailer is a fully outfitted mobile kitchen with enough space to train 6 students at a time. The Mobile Culinary Classroom was built to serve people exiting incarceration and re-entering the community. We have successfully partnered with many other community agencies and halfway houses throughout Metro Denver to bring our training to folks who need desperately need support as they begin to rebuild their lives. In 2020, Work Options added another Mobile unit to its fleet - The Helping Hen food truck. The Helping Hen provides paid internship opportunities to students.
In 2021, Work Options opened its 3rd training site in the Adams County Pete Mirelez Human Services Center at 11860 N Pecos St. in Westminster, increasing both our geographic and demographic footprint. Work Options remains the only comprehensive job-training program in the Denver area with a consistent track record of more than 24 years helping people attain marketable skills, take control of family and life challenges, and secure permanent employment - and now, we have a greater capacity than ever to do so.
Your donation will provide hands-on culinary skills training taught by professional chef instructors. In addition to core culinary skills training, students also receive job readiness instruction and cognitive behavioral therapy sessions that aim to help individuals identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and to learn practical self-help strategies.
Work Options intentionally recruits and trains some of the Denver metro area's hardest-to-employ, under-resourced individuals - folks who face multiple and substantial obstacles to employment. Work Options offers culinary skills training plus individualized, holistic support services to help students overcome their individual employment barriers and to stabilize their lives, thus increasing the likelihood that program graduates will be positioned to retain permanent employment over the longer-term. All training and wrap-around services are provided to each student at no cost to them.
In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Work Options trained 146 individuals who faced significant barriers to employment. Eighty-seven percent of students were justice-involved; 79% of students were un-housed or were in unstable housing situations when they entered training; 42% had prior felony convictions; 58% of students reported they had experienced domestic violence; 31% of students stated they had less than a high school education; and 57% of students reported they were a single parent with responsible for a minor child.
With your help, Work Options will continue to provide critical job skills training, holistic wrap-around services, and produce and deliver free emergency meals to those in need. Thank you for your support and your dedication to community care.