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Since 2012, the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management has partnered with the ECDC/African Community Center of Denver to offer a Commercial Food Safety and Service Training (CFaSST) program, which helps African refugees develop the skills and knowledge needed to obtain jobs in the food service industry.

To celebrate and raise awareness and funds for this unique program, the Knoebel School is hosting its second annual Public Good Gala on February 19 at the Joy Burns Center. The evening includes hors d’oeuvres, a four-course menu and wine pairing, and a silent auction. Food and wine will be prepared and served by Knoebel and CFaSST students under the guidance of guest chef Paul Reilly from award-winning Denver restaurant beast + bottle.

The African Community Center is a resettlement agency dedicated to helping African refugees build safe and sustainable lives in Denver. They help refugees find housing, healthcare and jobs. The CFaSST program is a 100-hour, four-week training program taught at the University of Denver and in the Knoebel School of Hospitality Management commercial kitchen.

CFaSST has achieved an impressive 79 percent job placement rate for refugees who graduate. It has graduated nine cohorts of approximately 12–14 refugees each since its inception three years ago. The program was recently awarded the Worldwide Hospitality Award, Best Educational Innovation.

Knoebel students taking one of four courses participate in the Public Good Gala: Contemporary Cuisine, Managing Human Capital in Hospitality, Event Marketing and Hospitality Technology. “This program is obviously very impactful for the refugees and it is also great for our students,” says Dr. Cheri Young, associate professor who manages the Daniels-African Community Center relationship. “We have statistical evidence that this program broadens our students’ global perspective and appreciation of diversity. Not only that, but the Gala itself is a wonderful opportunity for both Knoebel and CFaSST students to put their skills to use in a real work environment.”

Proceeds from the auction and a portion of the ticket price will go to the African Community Center and scholarships for Knoebel School students. Learn more and purchase tickets at Tickets are $75 per person or $525 for a table of eight.

Learn more about the African Community Center of Denver at