Opportunity Tulsa exists to disrupt the cycle of economic injustice by creating pathways to employment for underrepresented youth. These pathways open doors to opportunity as we increase workforce skills, deepen developmental relationships and create connections to good paying jobs.  When youth and young adults have accessible and equitable onramps to career options, they move from surviving to thriving…a goal we all want to achieve!

Our work also involves increasing hope. Researchers say it takes both willpower and way-power for hope to live.[1] We know Tulsa area youth of color and class distinctions are often underrepresented in the local workspaces.  And, while they have the will to succeed and achieve their goals, they all too often experience barriers to the way.  Through our culinary training programs that connect youth to paid internships, apprenticeships and jobs, we week to help eliminate the kind of barriers that prevent them from accessing opportunities to thrive.

Workforce Skills

It’s been said that kitchens are a great setting for learning the skills you need for any kind of job. From developing teamwork attitudes and strong communication skills to patience and perseverance, working with others around food offers expanded opportunities to grow in knowledge and practice.  Through our culinary training program, students learn new job skills, have the opportunity to explore their strengths, identify aptitude, and develop leadership all while being challenged to stretch and succeed. Parallel work-readiness modules extend the capacity for youth to develop interpersonal skills and business awareness that will increase their employment capacity.

Our culinary training offers hands-on, experiential learning backed with the best knowledge in the industry.  We utilize a global training platform that allows our students to progressively build certification levels with the American Culinary Federation and prepare for jobs with some of the largest hospitality venues across the country.  We are also a member organization of Catalyst Kitchens, where we receive the latest information, training and networking capacity with training programs just like ours across the country. 

We offer three learning cohorts per year; fall, winter/spring and summer.  Our emphasis is on small class size, so we limit each cohort to 12 students.  By remaining small in number, we have the ability to focus more on supporting each student’s pathway to success. 

If you are a teen between the ages of 16 and 19 with an interest in exploring our training program, please contact us at or by calling 918.984.8225. If you are ready to apply to join the next learning cohort, please click here.

Developmental Relationships

Opportunity Tulsa is also committed to building developmental relationships that promote social-emotional growth in teens and young adults.  These important interactions have the potential to exist with a variety of adult role models and take form within the home or out in the community.  They matter because they have been shown to be the gateway to increasing internal and external assets that youth need to achieve success in school at work and in their personal lives.

Research from FrameWorks Institute shows that young people with strong parental relationships have an increased likelihood of well-being. Connective interactions with teachers give youth what they need to overcome tough challenges, work hard and understand that making mistakes is okay. And when involved in extracurricular programming where leaders are focused on relationship building, youth develop a more confident community and personal identity coupled with a true sense of social responsibility. 

We base our emphasis on relationships with youth in our program on Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets and their research on Developmental Relationships. You can learn more about Search, their research and the ways we undertake to employ their information into our programming on our Perspectives page.

[1] Casey Gwinn, J.D. & Chan Hellman, Ph.D., Hope Rising, How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life,New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2019, 10.