Curt’s Café Receives $2 Million Gift from MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call

Evanston, Illinois, March 19, 2024 – Today, MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving organization announced Curt’s Café as one of Yield Giving’s Open Call awardees working with people and in places experiencing the greatest need in the United States. Curt’s Café has received an unrestricted award of $2 million.

Curt’s is dedicated to improving outcomes for young adults living in at-risk situations through work and life skills training it provides to cohorts in its Evanston and Highland Park cafés. It works closely with other nonprofits, local high schools, and various governmental institutions in Northern Cook County and Lake County, Illinois to identify young adults facing significant challenges who could benefit from its programs. Students who are selected receive 480 hours of comprehensive support over a sixteen-week program, including wrap-around social services, life skills training, and job training in the culinary industry by working in the cafés. Using the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, Curt’s focuses on intellectual, social, emotional, environmental, occupational, financial, spiritual, and physical well-being. It provides stipends and meals to ensure basic needs are met, creating a safe environment for personal growth. Curt’s assists its graduates in finding employment in the food or other industries or pursuing further educational opportunities, and, even after individuals graduate from the program, the Curt’s staff provides ongoing support and counseling. Curt’s is dedicated to its students’ growth, providing resources and opportunities for lasting success, and the results are life-changing for its students.

Commenting on the importance of this award to Curt’s, Rick Marsh, the President of the Curt’s Board said, “We are extremely grateful for this award which will enable us to significantly expand the programs and services we offer our students, including increasing the number of our program professionals providing needed support, as well as to address other short-term and longer-term needs. The award will also meaningfully contribute to our longer-term financial stability.”

Tanya Jenkins, the interim Executive Director of Curt’s, added, “Not only does the award provide us with critically important financial support, but it is also a thrilling recognition of the importance of our work. Especially since the pandemic, we have seen dramatic increases in the needs of the young adults we serve, who often have nowhere else to turn for the support and training we offer. We know that our organization is small in numbers, but we believe we are large in impact. Yield Giving apparently saw that as well and we appreciate the confidence it and its Evaluation Panel has shown in us and in our work.”

“With the generosity and trust that comes with this gift we will now have the time and space to look at Curt’s Café through a larger lens and step back and reassess what is needed to give our students everything they need, deserve, and are ready for,” said Ms. Jenkins. “We will also look at ways to further involve our students with our communities and involve our communities in our students’ success.”

In March 2023, Yield Giving launched an Open Call for community-led, community-focused organizations whose explicit purpose is to enable individuals and families to achieve substantive improvement in their well-being through foundational resources. The Open Call was managed in partnership with Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The Open Call received 6,353 applications and initially planned for 250 awards of $1 million each. In the Fall of 2023, organizations top-rated by their peers advanced to a second round of review by an external Evaluation Panel and underwent a final round of due diligence. Considering the incredible work of these organizations, as judged by their peers and external panelists, the donor team decided to expand the awardee pool and the award amount. “We are excited that our partnership with Yield Giving has resonated with so many organizations,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “In a world teeming with potential and talent, the Open Call has given us an opportunity to identify, uplift, and empower transformative organizations that often remain unseen.” More information on the Yield Giving Open Call and other initiatives can be found at


Curt’s Café
Curt’s Café is a workforce life skills training program whose mission is to improve the outcomes of young adults living in at risk situations through work and life skills training. To learn more, visit

Yield Giving
Established by MacKenzie Scott to share a financial fortune created through the effort of countless people, Yield Giving is named after a belief in adding value by giving up control. To date, Yield’s network of staff and advisors has yielded over $16,500,000,000 to 1,900+ non-profit teams to use as they see fit for the benefit of others. To learn more, visit

Lever for Change
Lever for Change connects donors with bold solutions to the world’s biggest problems—including issues like racial inequity, gender inequality, lack of access to economic opportunity, and climate change. Using an inclusive, equitable model and due diligence process, Lever for Change creates customized challenges and other tailored funding opportunities. Top-ranked teams and challenge finalists become members of the Bold Solutions Network—a growing global network that helps secure additional funding, amplify members’ impact, and accelerate social change. Founded in 2019 as a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Lever for Change has influenced over $1.7 billion in grants to date and provided support to more than 145 organizations. To learn more, visit