La Dorita Cooks

La Dorita Cooks is committed to creating paths to entrepreneurship for low-income individuals.

La Dorita Cooks is a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers special consideration kitchen-share scholarships and reduced coaching rates to a select few low-income companies from Pittsburgh’s food-insecure neighborhoods, as well as fellow aspiring women and immigrant entrepreneurs to perfect their skills and successfully transition into the food industry.  La Dorita Cooks awards a limited number of scholarships each year on a demonstrated need basis.

As a way to give back to our community, La Dorita Cooks has partnered with Volunteers of America’s All of Us Care program to fight the childhood hunger crisis on the front line by providing skills and cooking culture educational programming that is vital to the education, safety and social development of at-risk children in both the Fox Chapel and Shaler Area School Districts. Our ultimate goal is to nurture the survival and growth of our local children in order to drive long-term behavior change.  Check out the following video below to learn more about our children’s cooking classes.

Requirements to Apply for Reduced-Rate Incubation or Scholarship:

Low Income

La Dorita will consider offering reduced rates or possibly even a scholarship to low-income entrepreneurs, following US Federal Poverty Guidelines to determine low-income eligibility for our incubator program. We use current income and look carefully at total assets and on each person’s ability to access capital for their business idea (be that through friends/family, education, work experience, etc). Our program is interested in providing opportunities to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them so we look at each case individually and are most interested in working with entrepreneurs who are truly low income and low asset and who can most benefit from our incubator’s services.

Business Ready

Ready-to-Start businesses, that is, qualified applicants who show evidence that they are business and personally ready, and whose business shows potential to succeed will be the highest priority. Readiness is a personal and business stage where people have already taken action to advance in their business venture, have researched and tested a feasible business, have developed some entrepreneurial skills and have achieved a threshold of personal circumstance favorable to successful management of the business. La Dorita can consider candidates who need time to achieve business readiness if they show promise.

Economic Development

La Dorita Cooks seeks to support businesses from food-insecure areas such as Sharpsburg, Millvale, Homewood, the Hill District and other communities identified as “food deserts,” with the hope that economic development will trickle into these neighborhoods. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s online resource guide, “Mapping Hunger: Where are Pittsburgh’s Food Deserts,” provides an in-depth look at our area’s neighborhoods that are deemed to be food-insecure. Priority may be given to applicants from these areas.

La Dorita Cooks carefully screens applicants in order to find indicators that suggest an entrepreneur’s business readiness level as well as a business idea’s chance for success in the industry.

The application process will help assess:

Entrepreneurial Skills and Competencies

La Dorita Cooks assesses the applicant’s professional experience, entrepreneurial spirit, openness to learning new skills and making necessary changes and an ability to cooperate in a challenging and busy environment.

Product Viability

At interviews, La Dorita Cooks staff samples products and menu items from each business to see if the proposed product or concept has the potential to be successful.

Community Spirit

La Dorita Cooks’ kitchen is a shared space and the incubator is a community that requires its members to work together. We look for candidates who will be:

  • Flexible in sharing equipment and able to work with the people around them
  • Capable of scheduling their kitchen use times in advance, adhering to their own schedules and planning realistically
  • Willing to share financial and business information and statistics with La Dorita staff
  • Willing to implement changes and take advice in order to improve their business or product
  • Open to finding new ways of doing business, including potential partnerships and/or collaborations with other tenants
  • Receptive to La Dorita technical assistance and training
  • Able to comply with La Dorita food safety and sanitation policies
  • Responsible for following the rules and regulations of La Dorita