A BBVA Compass guest places her order with a Café Momentum intern.
BBVA Compass guests in Dallas were able to learn more about Café Momentum's internship program.
Café Momentum founder Chad Houser with BBVA Compass guests.
BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility & Reputation Reymundo Ocaóas, left, announced at the event that the BBVA Compass Foundation would be giving an additional $4,000 to sponsor a table and chairs at Café Momentum.
Thursday's event also served as the formal announcement of the restaurant's effort to raise $435,000 for a community services center in the tunnel space beneath Thanks-Giving Square.
The restaurant served a four-course meal for the occasion.
Café Momentum is largely recognized as one of the best restaurants in Dallas – but this isn’t its most extraordinary feat. For the young employees of Café Momentum, working at the acclaimed restaurant is more than just a job: It’s a fresh start. The café provides paid internships to former juvenile offenders, supplying job and life-skills training and support.
Now, thanks to a gift from BBVA Compass, Café Momentum will be able to make an even bigger impact. BBVA Momentum, an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs, chose Café Momentum as the recipient of this year’s $50,000 prize. The money will go towards a 4,500-square-foot community services center that Café Momentum has planned to be built near the restaurant.
BBVA Compass clients and Dallas city leaders joined founder Chad Houser at Café Momentum to celebrate the win and kick off Café Momentum’s fundraising effort for the center.
“To read about Café Momentum is moving in and of itself, but to be here and experience it
reaches into your heart in a more profound way,” BBVA Compass Dallas CEO Key Coker says. “We knew when we launched BBVA Momentum that we were going to meet amazing people who’d dedicated their lives to creating opportunities.
“What we didn’t anticipate was meeting these young people who are teaching us so much about the power of hope and pure determination.”
Café Momentum provides its young interns with intensive career and life-skills training as well as continued mentoring and support, all designed to help them have a successful reentry into the community.
In Texas, the chances that a youth who has committed a crime will re-offend within 12 months are nearly 50 percent. For Café Momentum employees, that rate drops from 48.3 percent to 15.2 percent.
The community center will give these at-risk children access to a classroom space, therapy space, a wellness room, access to healthcare and more.
“The center will provide space for us to leverage growth while also dramatically increasing
our program offerings, partnerships, and hours of impact and influence with our Interns,” said Houser.
Café Momentum flexed its culinary muscles over dinner, where the former juvenile offenders who power the restaurant prepared and served a stunning four-course meal, complete with delectable dishes like minty caesar salad, buttermilk fried chicken and smoked carrot ravioli.
“They show up every day, amidst all of the odds that are stacked against them, and they
commit. And the commitment that they’re making is to themselves,” Houser says. “It’s not to me, it’s not to the restaurant, it’s not to the guests. It’s to themselves.”