Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s (LMM) Workforce Development service area has been awarded three-quarters of a million dollars by ECMC Foundation, a Los Angeles-based national foundation that makes investments in postsecondary programs and initiatives. The grant will help LMM propel the agency into a new phase of educational programming.

LMM offers culinary and hospitality training programs and is currently seeking additional accreditation for an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in culinary arts. With ECMC Foundation’s generous funding, LMM will strengthen the technical education program and further the innovative workforce programming to meet the current and future needs of the employer marketplace. With this catalytic support, LMM’s workforce development efforts will be funded by philanthropic support, and through earned income and federal student aid.

The support will allow LMM to build significant capacity and intentionally set the agency up to compete in a dynamic marketplace. “We’re excited to highlight our agency as a premier provider of workforce development and vocational educational programming in Cuyahoga County,” said Andrew Genszler, LMM President and CEO. “The community and our stakeholders can also look forward to having this resource nearby. We will have a long-term impact on the community by educating and empowering people to be productive citizens making a valuable contribution to the local workforce.”

The funding is crucial to building capacity for the transition of the diploma program to the AAS degree, and to the research and exploration of other degree programs responsive to market conditions. With the ability to confer associate degrees, LMM is positioned to form strategic partnerships with regional institutions of higher education to create a career pathway for graduates and an option to continue their education.

Participants from LMM’s Chopping for Change culinary program will be positively impacted. Monica, a current student, had tears in her eyes when she found out about the grant. “I’m going to graduate in January and walk across the stage to get my Advanced Culinary diploma. My dad is coming. I haven’t seen him in nine months. He’s 78 and I’m the baby of the family, but I’m the first one of his five kids to ever receive a diploma, so it’s really going to be emotional. Now all I have to is get the Associate degree and make him even prouder. It’s a game-changer.”

The $750K Career Pathways grant from ECMC Foundation will be received over three years. LMM’s relationship with ECMC Foundation began with a $150,000 one-year grant in 2017 for the expansion of the Chopping for Change program.

“We’re excited to continue our support of LMM’s work and look forward seeing how they will expand their work to reach more of the workforce and meet the needs of employers,” said Peter Taylor, President of ECMC Foundation.