Dear friends,

I have been at Forge City Works as executive director for one year. As friends and partners, I want to share with you what I have experienced as well as give you a snap shot of the impact we are having together.

I can honestly tell you that I love coming to work every day, I love our staff and board, I love our city, I love our community of partners/investors/supporters. But mostly I love the work that we get to do on a daily basis.

At its core, our work is this: meeting people where they are and helping them develop their talents and passions to overcome barriers to good honest work and career pathways. We use hospitality businesses as the arena in which we coach, encourage, equip, and celebrate our trainees. But honestly, they do the hard work.

Here at Forge City Works we have a crystal-clear mission: We provide job training and food access through sustainable social enterprises, empowering people to improve their lives. It is simple, it is clear – it is also not easy to achieve.

Our staff comes alongside and walks with every trainee, offering training, coaching, and resources – and more importantly trust, dignity, and authentic care. Yes, this work is about food and job skills and on-the-job training. But it is equally about relationships, doing life together around the lunch table, and simply working together.

In 2023, we are looking to double the size of our training program; open our new Fire by Forge restaurant, café, and bar; and open The Grocery on Broad Street, a sliding-pay scale neighborhood market that will combat food insecurity and lack of food access, while also being fully integrated with our customer service, hospitality, and culinary job training program.

None of this is new work. While the restaurant name has changed, we have always been in the restaurant business; while the grocery will be a new social enterprise, it is really an exciting and natural evolution from our Farmer’s Market. And at the heart of what we do, job training is really at the core.

The financial support and partnership we receive from people like you is having a significant impact on both Hartford residents and the city.

But let’s put some numbers on this…

  • Each trainee that completes our Level 1 Core 16-week Training Program represents an investment of about $13,000. Of this, it is worth noting, about half is invested directly in the trainee as wages/earned income. This is money that goes directly back into the community.
  • Approximately 80% of our trainees graduate and get jobs.
  • Assuming trainees start at $15/hour and work between 30-35 hours a week, in one year, they will earn approximately $26,000 – which is a 2x ROI (return on investment).
  • As they continue to work and progress, a $18/hr working three years, earnings become close to $100k (over three years) and the ROI is better than 7x!

This year, our goal is to work with 50 trainees. That is a total cost of roughly $650,000. Of that amount, approximately $325,000 goes directly to the trainees as wages/earned income. This helps them establish housing security, food security, and stability for them and their families.

Now assuming 80% complete our program and start work — and let’s conservatively say that 80% of those continue working successfully for three years, this groups earning potential is around $3.2 million over three years. This is an ROI of almost 5x.

This is why we are committed to walking with our trainees over the course of months and years, as they develop and grow – because we are investing in their success, in their families, in their sense of dignity, and in their futures.

And every one of these trainees has a name, has a story, has their own struggles. Our investment of time, combined with your investment of dollars, are creating impact and helping each of them write a story with a better ending.

As I reflect upon my first year leading this organization, I know that there are many places and good causes for you to invest your money. I am deeply thankful that you choose to partner with Forge City Works – and I hope you see and get great joy from the impact your investment is making.

I hope to see you at the new restaurant soon! And thank you for your continue investment in 2023.


Ben Dubow
Executive Director