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MRA Report: Foundation Raises $100K for Scholarships in 2017



Spring is a fantastic season. Not only is the weather great, but we are also reminded of new beginnings. At the Minnesota Restaurant Association, we are very busy with our annual scholarship program and excited to be celebrating the next generation of leaders in our industry.  

This is the 10th year of the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation program, which began in 2008 with $14,500 in scholarships awarded to 13 students. The program has really grown, thanks to our generous donors. In the first nine years of the program the total scholarships awarded were $512,000 to 233 students. We have raised $100,000 for the 2017 program, which will bring the total amount invested in our future to more than $600,000. Scholarship awards for the 2017-2018 school year will be presented later this month.

Students in post-secondary programs studying hospitality, restaurant management or culinary arts are eligible. Many of the applicants have participated in the ProStart or HTMP high school program but that isn’t a requirement. Our scholars have attended a wide variety of colleges and universities including Saint Paul College, Hennepin Technical College, Normandale Community College, St. Cloud Technical and Community College and Southwest Minnesota State University. Other institutions have included the New England Culinary Institute, the Culinary Institute of Arts, Johnson and Wales University, University of Wisconsin Stout, Iowa State and North Dakota State University.

The scholarship program wouldn’t be possible without our generous donors. Our sincere thanks to these industry partners:

Augeo Marketing, Blue Plate Restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings, Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn, Cargill Foodservice, Carlson Family Foundation, Coca Cola, CSM Lodging Corporation, Culver’s VIP Foundation, Davanni’s, David Fong’s Restaurant, Ecolab, Grandma’s Restaurants,

Holiday Inn St. Cloud, HSC Brokers, The Hubbell House, Jax Café, Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge, The Mihajlov Family, Minnesota Restaurant Association, Morrissey Hospitality, Murray’s Restaurant, Best Western Normandy Inn, Northcott Hospitality/Wyman Nelson Family, and Nova Restaurant Group. Thanks also to Pepsico Foodservice, Red Cow Restaurant Company, Renaissance Mpls Hotel The Depot, Restaurant Brokers of Minnesota, Restaurants No Limit, Saputo Dairy, South Pier Inn, Sullivision.com, Sysco Minnesota

Taher Inc., Torke Coffee Roasting, TPI Hospitality, The Greater Minneapolis Hotel Association, The Toby Tournament, US Foods, White Bear Country Inn/Rudy’s Red Eye Grill.

I want to particularly recognize and thank the family of the late Bill Morrissey. When Bill passed last year, his family asked that memorials in his name be made to the scholarship fund. The outpouring was remarkable and is most appreciated. The memorial contributions will allow ongoing funding of an annual scholarship in Bill’s memory. Morrissey Hospitality and the family also plan to donate each year. Bill is gone but his legacy in our industry will continue, in part because of this generous funding.

Success stories

Let me share a few of the amazing success stories about students who have won scholarships in the past. These are just of few of the alumnus spotlights that we have received: 

Jordan Lenz participated in ProStart at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School and was part of both the culinary and management teams. He earned an associate of applied science degree at St. Cloud Community and Technical College and is now the head chef at Anton’s Restaurant in Waite Park. Jordan’s goal is to someday own a few restaurants himself. His advice to students: “Follow your passion.”

Maria Lewis participated in the ProStart program at Indus High School, just a few miles from the Canadian border. Maria graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stout with a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management. Maria is pursuing a career in event management after an internship at Grand View Lodge. She is most proud to be part of the industry because so many people work together to please our guests.

Anthony Cordoba attended Elk River High School and participated in ProStart. After attending Hennepin Technical College’s culinary arts program, he became a marketing associate at Sysco Minnesota. Anthony is passionate about food and the restaurant community. Every day he looks to get better at his role and sees many opportunities in the restaurant community.

Josh Walbolt participated in ProStart at Elk River High School. He was part of the school’s program in 2011 and 2012, including advancing to the national competition. Josh went on to study at the Culinary Institute of Arts and to work in positions and externships in Florida, New York City and  Atlanta. He worked with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto at his restaurant in Disney Springs, Florida. Josh is now chef de partie at Gavin Kaysen’s new Bellecour in Wayzata. Josh served as a culinary judge at 2017 Sysco Minnesota ProStart invitational culinary arts competition.

The list of 2017-2018 scholarship recipients will be announced around May 1. Check www.hospitalitymn.org/hmef or the next edition of Foodservice News for details.

We also want to congratulate two MRA members who were recognized by the City of St. Paul as business leaders in the community for 2017. Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch, the owners of Urban Growler, were honored with the Alice O’Brien Award as a woman-owned business that is committed to equity and empowerment. El Burrito Mercado won the Open for Business Award for exemplifying the qualities recognized by the business awards. 


Dan McElroy is executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association and president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, which also includes the Lodging and Resort & Campground associations.

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