New York City Nonprofit Partners with Cornell University to Help Close Unemployment Gap, Prepare Underserved Youth for Foodservice, Customer Service, and Hospitality Jobs

— Free program connects services, training to local economy —

The nonprofit STRIVE New York has broadened its impact on urban youth unemployment by partnering with eCornell and local city organizations to launch Serve UP Harlem, an initiative to prepare 18- to 24-year-olds for career paths in food service, customer service, and hospitality. The free two-week program combines Cornell University’s Service Excellence On-Demand online training with job readiness training, basic financial literacy, and employer connections and case management through the East Harlem Talent Network (EHTN), STRIVE’s place-based hiring initiative. Serve UP Harlem launched in January 2017 and was developed with support from the Youth Opportunity Fund, led by the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance.

“STRIVE’s success is based on the relationships we build and the partnerships we forge in support of our young people and local economy,” said Phil Weinberg, STRIVE’s President & CEO. “Partnering with Cornell University and accessing their hospitality expertise allows us to provide a level of training to our students that they would not have access to otherwise.”

Since January, many of Serve UP Harlem’s 70 graduates have entered hospitality internships or begun the job application process with support from program staff. That support is enhanced by an integrated network of STRIVE partners: the EHTN, Operation HOPE, Cornell University, Hospitality Made Great, and local businesses in Harlem and Upper Manhattan. Students also build their personal networks through small classes, working together to complete the online Service Excellence training and then behind the scenes inside restaurants, wine stores, and hotels.

For graduates, the combination of Cornell’s Service Excellence training and STRIVE’s services through Serve UP Harlem provides the connections—and confidence—they need to build a positive vision for their future in the workforce. They leave the program with an in-demand skill set that differentiates them from other applicants, helping to close the youth unemployment gap and pave their way toward success.

“If I could complete this training, then I know I can do other education, training, or skills programs too and be successful,” said Daquan, who graduated the training in February.

The success of Serve UP Harlem’s six graduated cohorts has spurred STRIVE to pursue ongoing funding for the program, enabling them to help more young adults in New York City pursue successful career paths in foodservice, customer service, and hospitality.

About Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration

The School of Hotel Administration at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is shaping the global knowledge base for hospitality management through leadership in education, research, and industry advancement. Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the school provides management instruction in the full range of hospitality disciplines, educating the next generation of leaders in the world’s largest industry. Founded in 1922 as the nation’s first collegiate course of study in hospitality management, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration is recognized as the world leader in its field.

About eCornell

As Cornell University’s online learning unit, eCornell delivers online professional certificate courses to individuals and organizations around the world. Courses are personally developed by Cornell faculty with expertise in a wide range of topics, including data analytics, management, marketing, human resources, and leadership. Students learn in an interactive, small cohort format to gain skills they can immediately apply in their organizations, while earning a professional certificate from Cornell University. eCornell has offered online learning courses and certificate programs for 15 years to over 130,000 students at more than 2,000 companies.


STRIVE is a leading workforce development organization, headquartered in New York City, with 21 U.S. based Affiliates. STRIVE’s mission is to help individuals acquire the life-changing skills and attitudes needed to overcome challenging circumstances, find sustained employment, and become valuable contributors to their families, their employers, and their communities. STRIVE’s comprehensive job training and career development services include its signature CORE job readiness workshop, as well as a range of vocational skills programs that prepares graduates with industry-recognized credentials in a variety of sectors. Since its founding in 1984, STRIVE has helped over 70,000 men and women transform their lives.