Since July 2010, Sunflower has graduated 116 culturally diverse students from the Pastry Arts Program. Our overall graduation rate from the program has been over 90%. Over 70% of our Pastry Arts program graduates are securing gainful employment within one year after leaving Sunflower. To date, Sunflower has served 460+ young adults and teens
and 60+ area employers have hired one or more of our graduates.
Now in its 12th year, Sunflower Bakery is responding to the growing and urgent need for skilled employment training and job opportunities for young adults with learning differences in the Metro DC area. To fill the continued increase in demand for our employment training programs, we have added an afternoon class cohort to our existing Pastry Arts Program, hiring additional program staff as needed, and we have formalized our Hospitality Program which we piloted last year. We have also initiated a job coaching component for this program, wherein we hire coaches to support students in their preparation for employment and work with graduates at job sites. Eligible Pastry Arts graduates who have not secured jobs may be hired for employment and additional training at Sunflower for up to one year. Enrollment for our employment training programs has increased by over 35%. Several of these students needed financial aid to pay their program’s tuition. The FCCIDD/Civitan grant helped to fund those students.
Impact of FCIDD Funding. Funds were requested to help fund scholarships for students with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities in our Pastry Arts and Hospitality Training Programs. Sunflower Bakery does not turn students away for financial reasons. Over 90% of our employment training program applicants and students are Montgomery County (MC) residents and 35-50% of their families are low income. Almost 100% of the young adults served in our employment training programs are not financially independent and fall below the county’s median income level.
The requested funds allowed us to continue accepting all appropriate students, regardless of their financial means. The $20,000 Project Grant was utilized to help cover the scholarship fees for 4 students with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities in both programs (2 in out Pastry Arts Program and 2 in our Hospitality Program).
Sunflower Bakery’s tuition is $10,600 for our Pastry Arts Program and $3,000 for our Pilot Hospitality Program. Since April when the funds were awarded, two Pastry Arts students with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities have needed scholarship funds totaling $21,048 and two Hospitality students with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities required funds totaling $6,000. The requested funds covered most of these scholarship needs.
Most recent video:
Expectations Matter Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGqEaBL6EEg
About one of our students this year:
D completed Ballou High School in Washington, DC in 2020, but his learning differences prevented him from attending college or culinary school. Living in Anacostia, attending Sunflower training was a challenge, but D chose Sunflower despite the 90-minute commute on public transportation because it was “the best choice for my learning and it is worth it.” In addition to learning the fundamentals of pastry arts, he learned that “It’s okay to ask for help if you don’t know what you need to do. I am more confident now in a work environment.” D is starting employment at an acclaimed wholesale bakery and eventually he wants to “save enough money to own my own bakery.”
Testimonials from students and employers:
"The instructors helped me a lot on how to follow the recipes one by one. It gave me a chance to not only understand and learn what I was good at and how I can improve...When I found out I had a job, I felt happy. I actually cried because [of] all the hard work that I put in." MK, recent Pastry Arts graduate "I think hiring someone from Sunflower has been helpful to everybody. What I think I learned more than anything else is that a Sunflower student is essentially the same as anybody else so that means that they fit right in." --Stephan Beauchesne, Co-Founder Pop-up Poutine "Being with Sunflower [it] is awesome to have these trained employees come in. They know how to work a scale, a mixer…[It's] been really helpful to run a professional kitchen." -Christine Schaefer, Owner and Pastry Chef, District Doughnut