In the Small Batch Fellowship, students receive mentorship, professional development, and work placements throughout our food business community. Youth who have participated DFA’s programs are invited to join the Small Batch Fellowship in their junior or senior years. Small Batch is a space for incubating youth’s food business ideas that are ready to go to the next level; it offers a space for youth to learn by running every aspect of their in-house food businesses from kitchen to store shelves; it houses three tiers of training that meet National Restaurant Association requirements for Work-Ready, Supervisor, and Managerial certifications; it is developed according to RAISE standards for best practice in the food industry; it provides thousands of hours of both thriving employment and professional development to youth, as well as one on one coaching to support youth in transitioning from high school into adulthood and succeeding in realizing their goals.
These youth will oversee the success of the three in-house businesses, including Mitten Bites, a healthy granola snack featuring local fruits and honey, Slow Jams, a jam company using only Michigan produce, and the Detroit Pop Shop a seasonal, gourmet popsicle company using only Michigan ingredients and highlighting local flavors. Youth in the Work-Ready/Fellowship stage of the training are supported in transitioning out of high school and into adulthood through a 12-month employment and training program that culminates in a work placement out, 5 days each week, at a local food business that is excited to hire going forward. This has resulted in 100% successful placement rates over the last two years. In addition, a small number of Work-Ready Fellows are accepted in the Tier 2 Supervisor training piece of the program. Youth who successfully complete the Supervisory piece can continue into the Manger training, which includes advanced in-house training ad operations and placements out at thriving food businesses to gain a broader range of managerial experience. All youth graduate with a training certification from the National Restaurant Association, a polished resume and personal statement, a range of career experiences, a work placement for ongoing employment, and a robust network of support and mentorship.