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A $1.5 million grant to NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s Brightwater culinary department will help build new apprenticeships and academic programs, such as in artisanal butchery, food entrepreneurship and whole health and wellness, the college announced earlier this week.

The grant comes from the Walton Family Foundation and will also support Brightwater's operations and professional development opportunities, according to a news release.

“This grant makes it possible for Brightwater to continue to offer industry-leading academic programming, career training and community classes that develop culinary talent for NWA and attract students from outside the region,” said Brightwater Executive Director Marshall Shafkowitz.

Among other changes, Brightwater plans to expand community-based programming, which is open to the wider public. CORE classes, for example, cover core kitchen practices and fundamentals like bread-baking, pickling and fermenting, cake-decorating and sausage-making. The BWorkforce program offers a free five-week Restaurant Readiness Culinary Bootcamp that prepares participants for entry-level jobs in a professional kitchen.

“Brightwater offers vital workforce training opportunities to a rapidly growing region,” said Robert Burns, Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program director. “The creative programming and state-of-the-art facilities provide unique upskilling and career pathways in the culinary sector.”

Learn more about Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food.