Chad Houser on Moving from Charity to Social Justice
How do you get kids from juvenile detention on track for success? Chef and Café Momentum Executive Director Chad Houser...
About This EpisodeHow do you get kids from juvenile detention on track for success? Chef and Café Momentum Executive Director Chad Houser talks about building a new model for juvenile justice that develops career and life skills to overcome recidivism and reincarceration. “The juvenile justice industry calls them ‘throw-away’ youth. We need to be pushing as hard as we can to change that narrative and eradicate that stereotype,” says Houser. He sold his former restaurant and created Café Momentum, a full-service Dallas restaurant that provides year-long internships for young people coming out of juvenile detention. “The thing they’re learning is what are their strengths, what are their interests, what are they good at. For the first time in their lives, they’re getting to learn positive things about themselves,” he explains. "The young men and women in our program can and will rise to whatever level of expectation is set for them, as long as we’re giving them the tools and resources and opportunity to do so,” says Houser.
Resources and Mentions:
Executive Director // Café Momentum
Chad Houser is the Executive Director of Café Momentum, which teaches life, social and employment skills to Dallas’ youth. After 17 years as a chef, Houser sold his partnership of Parigi Restaurant in 2012 to devote his full attention to the role. In 2020, he co-founded Momentum Advisory Collective, a non-profit organization built to scale Café Momentum and a new model for juvenile justice across the country.
Café Momentum provides a transformative experience through a 12-month paid post-release internship program for young men and women coming out of juvenile facilities. They rotate through all aspects of the restaurant, focusing on life and social skills, coaching and development.