General Session: The First Rule for Righteous Entrepreneurs

Mike Curtin
DC Central Kitchen


In 2006, DC Central Kitchen began a conversation with the District of Columbia regarding funding for the thousands of daily meals that the Kitchen had been providing for free for 16 years for district-owned shelters. What should have been a fairly straightforward discussion became something much bigger and eventually became an inflection point for the evolution of DC Central Kitchen. As the Kitchen has matured from a more traditional social service nonprofit to a social enterprise business and an economic development engine, they have challenged the norms of “charity” and given philanthropists new ways to consider their work and investment is social good. Over the course of this journey, DC Central Kitchen has developed its “Eight Rules for Righteous Entrepreneurs” that set out a series of value propositions that inform the Kitchen’s growth and decision making. Mike will dig into the first rule and talk about how this has redefined who DC Central Kitchen is and how it has jump started their work through traditional philanthropic circles.

Prior to joining DC Central Kitchen in 2004, Mike had more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry including owning and operating his own restaurant. Under his leadership, DC Central Kitchen has grown from $3 million to $17 million in annual revenue with nearly 60% earned through mission-driven social enterprise activities and 48% of its staff having completed its own nationally-recognized Culinary Job Training program for individuals with high barriers to employment.

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