We teamed up with Vernick Food & Drink - Philadelphia’s leading restaurant - to organize a hands-on educational experience for Neumann Goretti’s students set in a high-achieving business environment. Acting as a facilitator, NYSeed sought to connect a renowned Philly establishment eager to share their success and have a greater impact on their local community with a group of kids excited to learn beyond the classroom.
We believe that the vibrancy of any community is predicated on the strength of its relationships. We see our role as a connecting force that creates platforms for local communities to share mutually beneficial experiences.
Our idea to organize a field trip for Neumann Goretti’s students arose from our desire to create learning opportunities outside the classroom, expose the kids to a thriving business, and open their minds about the opportunities available to them.
When seeking a partner for this project, we wanted to find a business that is not only accomplished by industry standards but also outward looking, or strongly aware of its local community and seeking new ways to contribute. As a highly decorated and socially oriented restaurant, Vernick fit the bill perfectly.
When planning the field trip, we had a few takeaways in mind. We wanted the students to get a taste of restaurant operations, but also understand the mission that inspired the business in the first place and drives it forward every day. The experience would also hopefully let Neumann Goretti’s students leverage their strengths in a collaborative environment that provides an immersive feedback loop.
The event, a lesson in the larger overall curriculum, involved 24 13-to-16-year-old Neumann Goretti students selected through a unique interview process earlier in the year. The goal of the selective process was to keep the group size manageable, but also to attract the most motivated kids and give them a sense of accomplishment in landing the opportunity.
We brought the students to Vernick on a late afternoon in May with the plan to have them prepare and participate in Vernick’s family-style dinner traditionally conducted before the restaurant opens its doors to the public. In keeping with our original intentions, Vernick kicked off the field trip by sharing their business vision, followed by a guided tour of the restaurant. We wanted the kids to get comfortable with the space and gain some understanding of the various roles involved in running a successful restaurant, before putting them to work. Once the theory was out of the way, we split students into groups, based on their preferences and our understanding of their strengths. We then sent them to the front or back of the house and watched them soak up the guidance they received and work eagerly through the day’s challenges. With dinner ready to go and the front of the house in spotless shape, the students and Vernick’s staff sat together to enjoy a cozy family meal as a mockup team in brief but impactful camaraderie.
Watching the students make their way around an unfamiliar setting, exhibit excitement and drive, look up to Vernick’s staff with respect, and form unlikely friendships through a shared sense of responsibility cemented NYSeed’s focus on experiential learning. Our organization will continue to aspire to immerse motivated kids into environments of excellence, partnering with business leaders eager to give back to their communities and to confer transferrable knowledge and skills to local youth.