The lack of employable skills, limited education, and resume gaps are barriers faced by these women. Together We Bake addresses these challenges through skill development, hands-on experience, and a strong reference upon completion of the program. Along with our curriculum based training, our members develop workforce-readiness skills highlighting the importance of punctuality, attendance, cooperation and teamwork. Together We Bake provides the chance to learn how to be successful in the workplace.
Food Safety Instruction
The ServSafe Food Protection Manager’s Certification Course is the nationally recognized course from the National Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation. Program Staff facilitate an activity-based Food Safety lesson once a week, using DVD’s, textbooks, and Powerpoint presentations. The curriculum covers five key areas: Basic Food Safety, Personal Hygiene, Cross-contamination & Allergens, Time & Temperature, and Cleaning & Sanitation. Team members are instructed and tested on the material. 90% of our graduates have their ServSafe certification. This certification allows for preferential hiring, a higher starting salary, and opportunities for supervisory positions.
Baking Instruction and Production Experience
Program Staff lead daily instruction and supervision on basic baking skills and the food production processes throughout the program. Team members cycle through the Mixing, Baking and Cleaning Teams. Packaging of the products is included in this component as well. Along with the production of our two TWB products, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cinnamon-Pecan Granola, team members receive instruction in other baking techniques through our Guest Chef Program. Examples of Guest Chefs include an Artisan Baker, Gluten Free Baker, Pastry Chef, Chocolatier, and a Healthy Foods Culinary Chef. An off-site visit with hands on instruction at a local bakery is also part of the curriculum
Product Sales and Delivery
Team members cycle through the Business Team during the program. While on the Business Team, they learn about updating the website, receiving orders, taking inventory, ordering ingredients, creating packaging, developing marketing materials, updating social media, and shipping orders. Also, program Staff work side by side with team members to build relationships within the small business community of Alexandria. Through marketing, social networking, direct sales, customer service, and delivery of the products, the members receive hands-on experience in general business skills development. Each team member works at the Farmers’ Market and hones their public speaking, sales and marketing skills.
Job Readiness Skill Development
Our Job Counselor Volunteer Program helps team members prepare to reenter the workforce. Volunteers are matched with team members to work on setting employment goals, preparing a resume writing, interview preparation, mock interviews, and initiating and continuing a job search. Our goal is to support each member in finding sustainable employment by the end of the program. We partner with several local businesses, Sugar Shack, Cosi, and Brueggers. We are continually approaching prospective employers about building new strategic partnerships.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Low levels of self confidence, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and a limited view of the future are barriers that face these women. Empowering these women to alter the negative attitudes and behaviors that have plagued them in the past is a significant piece of our programming. A curriculum-based personal development session takes place daily throughout the program.
Program Staff facilitate two sessions each week based on the “Houses of Healing” and “Beyond Trauma” curriculums. The sessions consist of discussion, exercises, and activities that help the members gain self awareness and self esteem, as well as encourage responsibility and accountability in their actions. Topics include stress and anger management, triggers and reframing, healing from trauma, positive coping skills, communication skills, healthy relationships, and building a support network. This curriculum guides them through the process of acknowledging past mistakes, accepting the crisis they are facing as an opportunity for a fresh chance, and choosing a positive path for their futures. This Houses of Healing book and curriculum is published by The Lionheart Foundation. More information can be found online at www.lionheart.org/prison. The Healing Trauma curriculum is by Stephanie Covington. More information can be found online at www.stephaniecovington.com.These “life skills” are also addressed throughout the program whenever the opportunity arises. Building a supportive peer atmosphere and a safe place to explore and learn about themselves is a critical component of our program.