What is ProStart?

ProStart (Foundations of Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts) is a career-building program developed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) and managed locally by National Restaurant Association Solutions (NRA Solutions).  The program is a partnership between the Arkansas Hospitality Association Education Foundation (HEF), the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) and in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Education, and high schools statewide.

ProStart gives high school students a taste for success in the restaurant and foodservice industry by blending both classroom learning and work experience to produce the culinary and management leaders of tomorrow.  The program involves over 90,000 students in more than 1,700 schools across 47 states, territories and districts.  The ProStart program sets the standard for introducing high school students to a rewarding career in the restaurant and foodservice industry–the cornerstone of our nation’s career-and-employment opportunities.

ProStart Certificate of Achievement

certificate of achievement


The ProStart® National Certificate of Achievement (COA) is an industry-recognized certificate that signifies a strong foundation in the basic management and culinary skills considered critical to success by industry leaders.

For Industry

This means you can be assured that a credentialed ProStart graduate is cross-trained in all aspects of a restaurant’s operations and is ready to hit the ground running.  A student who has earned the COA has demonstrated a commitment to and knowledge of the industry, reducing turnover and training costs.

For Students

The ProStart National COA is your passport to the future.  Earning the COA can give you a leg up in your job search, and opens the door to collegiate opportunities.  Numerous restaurant, foodservice and hospitality programs offer benefits to ProStart graduates. These include scholarships, class credits and credit towards work experience requirements. To learn more about the benefits offered to ProStart graduates at more than 60 colleges and universities, download the National ProStart Collegiate Passport. (

Earning the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement

To earn the ProStart National COA, a student must pass the National Restaurant Association’s Year 1 and Year 2 exams, and complete 400 hours of mentored work experience.

Articulation Agreements

Students who successfully complete the ProStart final examination and ServSafe certification, while meeting the classroom and mentored internship requirements, will have a chance to earn college credit from numerous in-state and out-of-state postsecondary institutions.  An articulation agreement encourages postsecondary education while avoiding duplication of efforts and classes for students, and in the long run, saving students time and money!

Local Agreements:

  • Pulaski Technical College-Arkansas Culinary School
  • National Park Community College
  • Ozarka College
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • ASU-Heber Springs
  • Northwest Arkansas Community College
  • Out-of-State Agreements:
  • Johnson & Wales
  • Sullivan University

ProStart Schools in Arkansas:

  • Arkansas Tech Career Center, Russellville
  • Blytheville High School, Blytheville
  • Conway Area Career Center, Conway
  • Gravette High School, Gravette
  • Northeast Arkansas Career & Technical Center, Jonesboro
  • North Pulaski High School, Jacksonville
  • NWACC- Regional Technology Center, Rogers
  • Pine Bluff High School, Pine Bluff
  • Springdale High School, Springdale
  • St. Joseph High School, Conway
  • Mid-South Community College, West Memphis
  • Metropolitan Career Technical Center, Little Rock

ProStart Competitions

State Invitational

Arkansas ProStart students with proven skills and a commitment to the industry are given the chance to showcase their abilities in the Arkansas Student Invitational. The state ProStart competition is composed of two distinct competitions: the culinary and management competitions. The two winning teams, one culinary and one management, represent Arkansas at the National ProStart Invitational.

Teams participating in the culinary competition must demonstrate their creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in only 60 minutes. Their performance during the practical session is observed and rated by judges from industry and leading colleges and universities.

Teams participating in the management competition demonstrate their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant proposal, delivering a verbal presentation, and applying critical thinking skills to challenges managers face in day-to-day operations. Their performance is observed and rated by judges from leading colleges and universities and industry professionals.

State Rules – Culinary

State Rules – Management


Thank you to the 2013 ProStart Student Competition Sponsors:

Ben E Keith Reg crest 4cp HRUS Foods LogoTyson FoodsEcolab


National Invitational

The National ProStart Invitational is the finale of a nationwide series of state competitions hosted by partner state restaurant associations, where the teams face off in one of two competitions – culinary or management. For each respective competition, students must impress judges from leading industry corporations and colleges and universities with the skills they’ve developed through ProStart to place in the top rankings. The top five ranking teams from the culinary and management competitions are awarded medals and generous educational scholarships to help further their careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. In 2012, more than $1.4 million in scholarships were awarded to students by the NRAEF and leading academic institutions.

In addition, all competitors are encouraged to take full advantage of competing at the National ProStart Invitational by networking with other students and industry professionals in attendance.