Test Kitchen Education Foundation
We’re a non-profit organization that creates innovative after-school programs for rural communities in Iowa. We believe the key to success is to get youth excited about academics by engaging them in developing culinary and valuable life skills.
The Test Kitchen Education Foundation was established in 2015 in Fort Madison, Iowa. It was created to provide area students and educators with a comfortable place to engage in academic activities while enjoying a nutritious meal prepared by area chefs and students. Learning how to create tasty, healthy, and affordable meals while engaging in academic sessions resulted in increased attendance and improved the lives of the students.
The Test Kitchen concept was designed with two modern kitchen areas for students and teachers to gather and dedicate their time to academic tasks in a family-style atmosphere that feels like home. In 2020, with the overwhelming growth of the program, the Test Kitchen Education Foundation added a second location and called it the Test Kitchen STEM Lounge, which is dedicated to studies in science, technology, engineering, and math. The Test Kitchen STEM Lounge, equipped with a modern kitchen, was the very first place in southeast Iowa to provide a dedicated location for area students to engage in STEM-related activities in a relaxing, comfortable, and safe environment with great food.
The Foundation realized that many students did not have access to a piano or funds to pay for lessons. The Test Kitchen STEM Lounge responded to this need by providing a new grand piano and implementing an innovative music program that included fun music theory games, culinary activities, and dedicated practice times for each student. On Friday nights, music enthusiasts and students gather at the Test Kitchen STEM Lounge to showcase their talents for the community while enjoying great food prepared by Test Kitchen youth chefs.
Where We Are Now
Over the years, The Test Kitchen Education Foundation experienced phenomenal growth. The Elliott Test Kitchen and the Test Kitchen STEM Lounge have gained popularity statewide. Many communities across Iowa have started to take notice of the Test Kitchen Education Foundation's work. Inquiries and demands for similar programming from other organizations have since come pouring in.
In 2023, The Test Kitchen Education Foundation entrusted the local YMCA with the oversight and operations of the Elliott Test Kitchen and the Test Kitchen STEM Lounge. By bringing academic and nutritious programming to the Fort Madison Family YMCA, they have become a cut above the rest. This also enables Test Kitchen Education Foundation to expand this unique concept to a larger audience.
Today, the Test Kitchen Education Foundation is committed to providing consulting services and assistance to other organizations to create the unique Test Kitchen experience in their communities to make a better future for youth.
YMCA Test Kitchen
Today the Elliott Test Kitchen and the Test Kitchen STEM Lounge are operated by the Fort Madison Family YMCA and the Elliott Test Kitchen name has changed to “Fort Madison Family YMCA Test Kitchen”. Combining YMCA’s physical, mind and body programming along with Test Kitchen Education Foundation’s academic, music and nutritious programs have made the Test Kitchen experience one of the most powerful after-school programs in the nation.