If there is one thing all teenagers can enjoy, it’s food – and Brainfood capitalizes on that universal appeal to empower young people, build their skills, and unlock job opportunities. Youth unemployment remains extremely high (14%), and for those living in poverty, getting that first job is all the more difficult. So at Brainfood’s after-school and summer programs (serving students from all eight wards), cooking classes engage teens not only in culinary arts and nutrition, but in valuable job skills like accountability, communication, time management, and leadership. Home-cooked foods are donated to local community organizations, and in the summer months, youth get their hands dirty by growing produce in the garden. Second-year “MVPs” take on the role of instructor, leading workshops in the community to share their healthy cooking know-how. The newest program, Homegrown, teaches older youth to develop and sell their own food products – complete with training in branding, sales, and distribution at local outlets like Union Market. Building confidence, healthy habits, and valuable skills: now there’s a recipe for success!

Headquarters: DC-Ward 1

Where They Operate: DC-Citywide

Age Groups Served: Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Population(s) Served: Students

Schools They Work In: All DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools

  • Number of people (clients, patrons, students, etc) we serve annually:   200
  • Number of hours of volunteer work we record annually:   3,000
  • Number of Wards we serve:   8

Awards & Recognition

Mayor's Sustainability Award 2013


Budget (FY2015)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • The current budget for Brainfood is: $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

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Each year 120 expert reviewers evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact. Each featured charity has been successfully site visited and its financials given the thumbs up. The Catalogue for Philanthropy charges no fees and raises funds separately to support its work. Since 2003, it has raised over $40 million for charities across the Greater Washington region.

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