Café Momentum Case Study: How They’re Helping Kids in Dallas Juvenile Detention Centers
How Café Momentum is beginning to change how society views youth involved in the criminal justice system
Café Momentum, a Dallas restaurant that gives jobs to kids coming out of juvenile detention
Dispel the notion that kids in juvenile detention are “throwaway kids” and show transformation is possible when given the tools, opportunity, and resources
Scale nationwide: connecting the restaurant with funders and influencers while creating a media juggernaut to change how people understand juvenile justice
A 10-fold restaurant expansion underway, a partnership with the NFL, coverage from 100 media outlets, and 4.2 million video views
Founder and executive chef Chad Houser had a dream.
In 2015, the acclaimed Dallas chef started Café Momentum, a top-rated restaurant that gives jobs to kids coming out of juvenile detention. The results were amazing: Nearly 50% of kids who go to jail once will be rearrested within a year, but 85% of kids who intern at Café Momentum have never gone back to jail at all.
With such incredible results, Chad wanted to make Café Momentum as widespread as Starbucks. He knew he had a chance to help the more than 48,000 kids who are incarcerated every year.
Of kids who go to jail will be rearrested within a year
Of kids who intern at Café Momentum have never gone back to jail
But he didn’t have a path to make that dream a reality. He didn’t have the funding, the experience, or the megaphone. So the organization reached out to Stand Together Foundation.
“There’s no question to me that this is impossible without Stand Together.”
Early on, we saw what makes the Café Momentum model for juvenile justice so effective. While the juvenile detention system labels kids who went to jail as “throwaway kids,” Café Momentum’s team believes each one of them has incredible potential. They empower youth with responsibilities at the restaurant and give them mentoring and a high school education to find their unique gifts and use them to help others.
Plus, the power of their stories of transformation is undeniable. Many who dine at a Café Momentum say it’s a life-changing experience — giving them a new outlook on kids who went to jail. Add it all up, and we knew that Chad Houser and Café Momentum could change how America thinks about youth involved in the criminal justice system.
Invested in Café Momentum since 2018
Expected growth in five years
Total views of Café Momentum videos we produced
Since 2018, our community has worked together to transform Café Momentum into a national phenomenon:
- The Café Momentum team needed funding to achieve their vision. Stand Together Foundation invested $2.9 million in funding to help Café Momentum scale.
- They wanted to build a scalable business model. Founder Chad Houser worked with Stand Together Foundation to create the Momentum Advisory Collective, which is making possible Café Momentum’s nationwide expansion.
- They wanted to reach as many people as possible. The Stand Together communications team collaborated with Café Momentum to create over 100 media hits and original videos with more than 4.2 million views and counting.
- They wanted influencers to validate Café Momentum’s vision. We facilitated connections with NFL legend Shaun Alexander, which helped Café Momentum build partnerships with the NFL and its Players Coalition, leading to a pop-up dinner at the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft and extensive NFL Network coverage.
NFL MVP Shaun Alexander has a dream: Bring Café Momentum to as many cities with NFL teams as possible
Café Momentum is now on track to 10x their growth by 2025. Each new restaurant they open can help thousands of kids and can reach more than 40,000 diners every single year. That means 400,000 people will be able to directly get involved in empowering these kids (and get a great meal too)!
People dining across 10 restaurants who will be able to get directly involved
What You Can Do
Learn More: Explore our take on the many problems with criminal justice — and what our partners are doing to solve them.
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Get Involved: Find out how you can support Café Momentum — and change how America helps youth involved in the criminal justice system.