In recent months CookWell has been using the program hiatus imposed by COVID-19 to super-charge our development as a nonprofit. We’ve made real strides, working hard to upgrade our culinary training model, revise our mentorship curriculum, redesign our logo, and chart a path into the future that will fulfill our newly articulated vision and mission:

Removing walls, building community

Working together to equip returning citizens
with job skills, dignity and hope

In addition, we’ve fine-tuned our core values:

  • We believe job skills are best acquired through an experience of bonding among trainees, staff and volunteers.
  • We affirm the dignity of our trainees, cultivating it by marking their successes and, where possible, offering opportunities for them to become program leaders.
  • The ultimate goal of this enterprise is to remove walls and build community, not just by opening the eyes of staff and volunteers to trainees’ challenges and potential, not just by helping trainees establish stable, dignified lives, but most importantly, by doing this collectively, with everyone involved gaining insight and expressing solidarity across lines of difference.

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CookWell is the initial program of the Lawrenceville Job-Training Partnership (LJTP), a tax-exempt nonprofit launched in 2018 by the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. We work with a variety of regional partners, including government agencies, other nonprofits, chefs, and restaurants, drawing on the unique expertise of each to help returning citizens hone their skills and establish community ties.