Our Vision

We believe in a community where everyone – especially those facing obstacles – has an equal opportunity for personal growth, achievement and a better future.

As an organization deeply committed to social justice, NECAT embraces diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI), and will do everything in our power to assure our mission, services, culture and governance reflect this.

Our training model is strongly focused on leveling the playing field for adults who have been underrepresented or marginalized. But at this time of national reckoning with systemic racism, we realize that we need to do more to ensure that all of our collaborations and employer partnerships in the city respect this ideal and address and break the barriers that keep people from moving forward in their lives.

We believe a more diverse workforce will help to accelerate the pace of change, making Boston a more welcoming and vibrant place for everyone who lives, works and visits here. We applaud those who are advancing the DEI cause and will work in concert with them to promote it in the food services industry and in the communities we serve.

We're committed to the following:

  • Including DEI as a core organizational value and part of each of the pillars of our curriculum.
  • Recruiting more people of color to our Board, management and staff to reflect the make-up and concerns of the communities we serve.
  • Partnering with people of color who are owners, managers, and chefs to make our programming and job placement more sensitive to their needs.
  • Including DEI workshops in our staff development programs and seeking student and graduate feedback on DEI sensitivity.
  • Bringing in chefs and industry leaders who are people of color to speak to students, and when developing new programs, ensure they are culturally sensitive, and clearly support our DEI objectives.
  • Promoting DEI through communications to our stakeholders.

“As a leading nonprofit focused on addressing underserved communities in Massachusetts, we need to play our part in making a real difference in tackling all forms of systemic discrimination.”

– Maarten Hemsley, NECAT Founder, Board Chair & President

Actions we’ve taken:

Recruitment. Increased NECAT’s Board composition to 50% BIPOC. Increased NECAT’s staff composition to 54% People of Color.

Advisory Board. Created a DEI Advisory Sub-Committee of Board Members and staff to oversee DEI initiatives as articulated in NECAT’s Revised (2021) Strategic Plan.

Grants. Selected by the Boston Foundation to participate in an Organizational Equity Practice series of workshops.

Programming. Developed a culinary training program in partnership with Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department specifically for inmates ready for release, and those returning citizens who have been released within the past year.

Speaker Series. Instituted a series of guest chefs, restaurateurs and food industry experts of color to provide lived experience inspiration to NECAT’s aspiring cooks.

Community Outreach. Created a network of local social and community service partners to provide support to NECAT students in the areas of criminal justice, health and employment.

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“There isn’t a magic formula about how to make the culinary industry more inclusive. While the best answer is to hire more BIPOC, job interviews shouldn’t be a nerve-wracking experience for those individuals – with nervous glances into the kitchen to see if there’s someone who looks like them, or feel like they must stifle their dialect or background.”

-Sāsha Coleman, 2017 NECAT graduate, NECAT Board Member, and Photo Team Assistant at America’s Test Kitchen



is the 2nd most diverse industry in the U.S. (Forbes Insight)


Restaurant Employees

50.4% of restaurant employees are people of color (Restaurant News)


Black-owned eateries

only 150 of the 11,000 eateries in Greater Boston are Black-owned