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Student in Kitchen - Image by Deanna Erickson Chef and Students - Image by Deanna Erickson The El Cajon Project Inc. was founded in 1993 by Chef Betty Ewing. Chef Betty has taught Culinary Arts in high school for more than 20 years and is currently working at Silicon Valley Career Technical Education as the executive Chef of the program. She has teamed up with many school districts all across the San Francisco Bay Area to help students find their place.

The El Cajon Project is still going strong, in it's 25th year now. The El Cajon Project has an outstanding and successful track record with our young, sometimes "at-risk" students who may be struggling to graduate from the comprehensive high school. In recent years El Cajon has expanded its demographics to embrace students who have the passion and the ability to work in the culinary arts field. We have opened up opportunities to students who show tremendous passion for the hospitality and food industry, because many restaurants and food service businesses struggle to find quality employment. We find that our students get hired very quickly and prove to be great employees. Our goal is to embrace these students with an array of options and encourage them to focus on the hospitality and food industry, because there are so many educational and employment opportunities available.

The El Cajon Project helps these students graduate from high school and become productive members of our communities through an innovative culinary arts training program that offers school credit through a rigorous, hands-on learning environment at exclusive four and five-star restaurants, including Alexander's Steakhouse and many others. This unique vocational education initiative establishes multi-faceted relationships among youths, families, schools, business and dedicated individuals that strive to improve youths' confidence and self-esteem while fostering personal growth and development. School representatives select students, based on criteria that designate them "at-risk". These students are primarily high school juniors and seniors. The El Cajon Project staff reviews each student's application and conducts an interview to determine suitability to the program.

Students will supplement their practical restaurant work with reading and testing, using culinary arts workbooks. They will also have the opportunity to attend culinary-related trade shows and other pertinent programs offered in the area.

Graduating students are honored at a dinner party to which parents, school staff, and local media are invited. They will receive an El Cajon Project Certificate of Completion, as well as academic credits determined by the students' school district and the El Cajon staff.

What Is The El Cajon Project?