$300,000 Investment from KeyBank to Help Support and Grow Culinary Apprenticeship Program at Foodlink

Foodlink’s one-of-a-kind culinary training program, the Foodlink Career Fellowship, prepares people for careers with a living wage in the regional food industry
Feb 20, 2024 9:00 AM ET
Representatives from KeyBank and Foodlink shown with a $300,000 grant check.

A $300,000 investment from KeyBank will help support growth and expansion of a culinary apprenticeship program at Foodlink. This grant is part of KeyBank’s commitment to invest $40 billion in the communities it serves.

The Foodlink Career Fellowship creates pathways to prosperity for individuals with barriers to sustainable employment. The year-long, NYS-certified culinary apprenticeship program equips participants with specific skills and nationally recognized certifications that will result in career opportunities in the growing food industry. 

“KeyBank is proud to support the transformative work that Foodlink is doing through the Career Fellowship Program,” said Vince Lecce, KeyBank Rochester Market President. “Their innovative work is creating hope and opportunity for many in our community, providing them with skills they need to succeed in the rewarding culinary field.”

On behalf of the Foodlink Career Fellowship team, we’re grateful to receive support from KeyBank,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “With this investment, we are able to create more opportunities for individuals seeking to reach their culinary goals and build healthier communities.”  

In addition to specialized culinary career training, Fellows receive essential soft-skills coaching, an externship opportunity, and wrap-around human services assistance, including both mental health and financial supports. Upon graduation, each Fellow will be a well-prepared candidate for some of the largest employers in the region, and they will be positioned to attain middle-skills positions with career mobility. The program has established a robust alumni network that ensures staff maintain ongoing communication and relationships with Fellows who have graduated. 

The Foodlink Career Fellowship is grounded in the following strategies: 

  • Person-Centered – Individualized career plans, development of soft skills
  • Peer Support – Opportunity to create a supportive peer group with shared goals
  • Community Support – Fellows are nominated by community-based organizations with collaborative case management
  • Industry Guidance – Partner employers engage in creation and facilitation of the program and tailor training to regional needs
  • Power of Food – Leverage Foodlink’s resources, infrastructure, and built-in programs to develop hard skills 

 This investment from KeyBank will help increase the number of Fellows and graduates, expand recruitment efforts, and provide more wrap-around support services.

Since 2017, KeyBank has made more than $727 million in investments in the Rochester market, supporting affordable housing and community development projects; small business and home lending to low-to-moderate income individuals and communities, and transformative philanthropy.


KeyBank's roots trace back nearly 200 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyCorp is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $188 billion at December 31, 2023. 

Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,000 branches and approximately 1,200 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit https://www.key.com/. KeyBank is Member FDIC. 


Foodlink is a Rochester-based nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and building healthier communities. We serve as the hub of the emergency food system across a 10-county service area and administer many programs and initiatives that address the root causes of food insecurity, including chronic poverty and systemic racism. Learn more about how we are transforming lives and creating healthy futures for every community we serve at www.FoodlinkNY.org, or follow us on Facebook, X or Instagram at @foodlinkny.