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For kids who have grown up in low-income neighborhoods, it can be hard to see a way out.

Seeing the adults around them stuck in the same cycle of poverty, a lot of kids find it hard to believe that there’s any opportunity for them to be different — to be the ones who make it out and carve out a different way of life. The American Dream seems too elusive. Like it doesn’t apply to them.

Robert Clark was one of these kids.

After losing his mother at a young age, Robert turned to the wrong people for guidance. That, paired with the limited resources in his neighborhood, meant that he found himself going down a path that would almost guarantee continual incarceration. Or death.

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When non-essential businesses in NYC were ordered to close in March, restaurants across the five boroughs were tasked to pivot fast or risk shuttering their doors for good.

The impact on the city's once vibrant restaurant scene was immediate and devastating. A national survey found that 250,000 people were laid off within 22 days and almost $2 billion in revenue was lost. And soon, numerous restaurant closures became permanent as the pandemic raged on and businesses were unable to keep up with rent and utility payments.

Hot Bread Kitchen, a New York City-based nonprofit and incubator that has assisted more than 275 local businesses in the food industry, knew they needed to support their affiliated businesses in a new light to navigate the financial complexities of shifting business models and applying for loans.

According to Hot Bread Kitchen's CEO Shaolee Sen, shortly after the shutdown began, a third of restaurant workers that they support had been laid off and another third were furloughed.

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