The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has honored Café Momentum founder, Chad Houser, for his service to justice-involved youth at the NCJFCJ’s National Conference on Juvenile Justice. He received the second annual Judith Horgan Award for Exemplary Service on Behalf of Children and Families in the Court System.
Working alongside juvenile justice officials and local community partners, the Dallas-based Café Momentum team strives to teach young people that it is possible to break the cycle of incarceration and violence that many have faced through the organization’s one-year paid internship program. Houser’s organization focuses on creating safe environments for youth ages 15-19, where they can gain self-confidence and learn marketable skills in every aspect of operating a fine-dining restaurant to ensure a more successful future.
In 2008, Houser was the co-owner of a successful restaurant and had been nominated as the best up-and-coming chef in Dallas. At that time, he had the opportunity to teach eight young men in juvenile detention how to make ice cream – and he said that experience struck him to his core. He opened the flagship Café Momentum location in 2015, developing an internship program that has changed the lives of youth exiting detention facilities. The restaurant is consistently named one of the top restaurants in Dallas, with a seasonal New American menu that is inspired by the more than 20 local farms and ranches that support its mission. The program is also expanding, with restaurant openings planned for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Nashville, Tennessee.
“BUILDING MOMENTUM” is a documentary film that tells the story of Houser’s efforts to provide resources, opportunities and wraparound care to justice-involved youth in his hometown of Dallas through the eyes of the Café Momentum team and the inspiring youth that the program serves.
“Chad has been instrumental in positively impacting justice-involved youth in Dallas and beyond,” said Joey Orduña Hastings, NCJFCJ CEO. “His organization has equipped young people with life skills, education and employment opportunities. It is an honor to recognize his inspiring efforts to help others realize their full potential.”
Judith Horgan is a child advocate and has a long history of involvement in the juvenile justice system. She founded Child Watch of Pittsburgh in 1992, bringing public awareness to the plight of children in the child welfare system. In 2022, the NCJFCJ established a scholarship and award in her honor.