YW Culinary Program

YW Culinary is a free 12-week, paid job training program, presented in partnership with Howard Area Community Center, designed to prepare students for success in Chicagoland’s vibrant food service industry. The program is available to traditionally underrepresented or vulnerable populations, such as women of color, survivors of domestic violence, and low-wage workers.

The training is welcoming to those without a high school diploma or GED and individuals who are 18 years of age or older who are interested in a sustainable career in the food service industry.

YW Culinary Students:

  • Develop culinary and food service skills
  • Earn a paid stipend while learning
  • Receive hands-on experience preparing bulk meals for YWCA’s Mary Lou’s Place domestic violence shelter
  • Develop employment skills such as communication skills, interview practice, and resume writing
  • Earn a ServSafe Food Handler and Manager’s Certificate
  • Have access to YWCA financial education resources and workshops like Basic Money Management
  • Gain industry knowledge and learn from guest chefs
  • Receive job placement and retention assistance

After completing 8 weeks of the YW Culinary program, students have the option to participate in a 4-week internship in the YWCA kitchen, where interns will:

  • Take the lead in meal planning
  • Have hands-on experience preparing evening meal for our shelter


Questions? Contact Emily McDonald at (847) 864-8445×2126 or emcdonald@ywca-ens.org

Upcoming Virtual Informational Sessions: 

  • Wednesday 11/9: 10:30am-12pm (in-person at YWCA)
  • Wednesday 12/7: 10:30am-12pm (virtual)

Upcoming Cohort

YW Culinary Cohort III 

  • January 9 – March 31

Class Schedule  

  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 4 pm. 
  • Mondays 10 a.m. to noon  


Follow this link to complete an interest form and register to attend a virtual information session.

Why should you sign up for YWCulinary?

“YW Culinary has been the best thing that has happened to me. "
2019 Graduate