The RISE UP! program prepares individuals for a variety of positions within the food service industry. The hospitality industry is dependent on excellent customer service, problem-solving and communication skills, which are addressed throughout the program.

About RISE UP!

This hands-on five week course (This program does not carry college credit.) is taught in the state-of-the-art culinary labs at SUNY Buffalo State. You'll learn from Buffalo State faculty and chefs and restaurant owners from throughout WNY.

Program Requirements

  • No previous experience is necessary.
  • Participant must have a high school diploma or equivalent.

What You'll Learn

  • How to safely handle/prepare food
  • Responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol
  • Extensive fire safety training
  • Guidance on interviewing and résumé creation
  • Strategies to manage challenges and promote exemplary customer service
  • Knife skills
  • How to operate commercial equipment

What You'll Receive

  • Industry-recognized credentials
  • ServSafe ® Food Handler Certification
  • TIPS ® Alcohol Certification
  • Certificate of Completion and link to an electronic badge
  • An industry grade “tool of the trade”

The Culminating Event

  • You will apply your new skills at a light fare reception attended by restaurateurs looking to hire.
  • Employers will be present at the end of the program to meet participants, but employment is not guaranteed.

Financial Assistance

  • Assistance is available to eligible applicants through Workforce Buffalo. Workforce Buffalo will contact you for an interview to determine if you qualify for assistance.*
  • Those qualified for assistance include, but are not limited to: displaced workers, unemployment due to termination, layoff or family care, or underemployment earning less than $25 per hour.
  • Assistance is granted at the discretion of Workforce Buffalo.
  • There is no partial assistance. If you qualify, your program cost will be paid in full (separate from the processing fee). 
  • $XX processing fee due at the time of application submission

*Note: SUNY Buffalo State/Continuing Professional Studies is not involved in this process; your tuition award is completely at the discretion of Workforce Buffalo.

Accepted Participants

  • Will receive additional informational materials.
  • Will be required to participate in a one hour, virtual orientation, through Workforce Buffalo.
  • Workforce Buffalo will cover your transportation costs, in the form of a bus pass or $5 per class for self-transportation.
  • Attendance policy: you can miss two classes and still receive certificate of completion.

Guest Speakers

Shetice Jackson

Shetice Jackson, Cake Crazy Bakery

Shetice Jackson, owner of Cake Crazy Bakery and the forthcoming Crazy Good Eatz, is returning in support of the program.  Jackson attended Emerson Vocational High School with a focus on Culinary Arts, and graduated first in her class in 1996.  Following high school, Shetice graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York; upon graduation, she moved to Las Vegas, where she worked for noted chef Emeril Lagasse.  We are fortunate to have her talents back in WNY!

Andrea and John Neidrauer

Andrea and John Neidrauer, Terra House

John Neidrauer, co-owner with his wife Andrea, of Terra House, actually attended the inaugural RISE UP! program as a class member.  The Neidrauers were recently featured in Business First, food and lifestyle section, in an article entitled "From dumpling making to charcuterie boards, restaurants boost sales with classes," which talked about youth, adult, and seminar classes they run at Terra House.  John is returning now to share his experience and perspective on both the RISE UP! program and the local hospitality industry.

Michael Tobin

Michael Tobin, owner of Fresh Catch Poke Co.

Mike Tobin, owner of Fresh Catch Poke Co. "At Fresh Catch, we believe our poke is more than just some ingredients scooped into a bowl. Our products help you commit to a healthy lifestyle for your body and our world. At its best, poke employs the traditional Hawaiian dish with the spirit of sushi but deconstructed to enhance and elevate each of the ingredients."  Mike will present on his entry to the restaurant field, and something of his philosophy as a restaurant owner.


"SUNY Buffalo State’s Hospitality and Tourism Department has a stellar reputation for training individuals to succeed in the food service industry.  We jumped at the opportunity to sponsor one of our employees in their summer 2021 RISE UP! program.  Our employee was very excited to attend! He increased his prep and knife skills and demonstrated more competence in all work tasks.  We whole-heartedly recommend RISE UP!"

-Sara Mann Kahris & Dave Kahris, The Phoenix

"Thank you so much for such a well organized, knowledgeable staff, and experience!  It was an amazing experience and wealth of knowledge.  Thank you for the opportunity!  Great job; great collaboration!!"

-M. LaRussa, program participant

"I now have a better understanding of food safety. Acting as a server at Campus House - I've never done that before and have a greater appreciation for it."

-J. Neidrauer, program participant, and owner of Terra House

"I would have paid more (for this program).  Quality of instruction was outstanding; diverse student body was fun to work with and learn from.  Kitchen lab was a great learning experience.  Really wonderful program; exceeded my expectations!"

-E. Decker, program participant