Legacy 4-Year Scholarship Program Awards $1 Million

WASHINGTON (October 7, 2020) – The American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) today unveiled a new scholarship program to partner with 10, 2-year hospitality programs around the country. The new endeavor will provide $100,000 to students signing up for the 2021/2022 academic year. In addition, AHLAF is awarding another $1 million in scholarships to 310 bachelor and graduate degree hospitality students during the 2020/2021 academic year. Since its founding, the AHLA Foundation has distributed nearly $14 million in scholarship funds to promising hospitality management students across the nation.

The newly created 2-year hospitality scholarship program will provide meaningful support to deserving hospitality associate degree holders, particularly those who may not otherwise have access to an education. These scholarships will cover a substantial portion of students’ tuition and school costs for a year. This announcement comes on the heels of a recently commissioned study by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm and affiliate of the Strada Education Network, that analyzed career pathways within the hotel industry and found that graduates with associate degrees are more likely to remain in the hospitality industry. To pilot the program, the AHLA Foundation has partnered with the following 10 colleges: Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Collin College, City College of San Francisco, Frederick Community College, Greenville Technical College, Kirkwood Community College, Pima Community College, University of Arkansas— Pulaski Technical College, University of the District of Columbia, and Valencia College.   

“During this difficult time for the industry, it is critical for AHLAF to support as many individuals as we can and fund their careers in this great industry,” said Rosanna Maietta, president of AHLA Foundation. “We know degree holders are more likely to stay in the hospitality industry, and many are already enrolled at 2-year colleges. That’s why launching this program right now is the right thing to do.” 

Each year, the AHLA Foundation administers nine scholarship programs, which award scholarships valued up to $7,500, to students enrolled in hospitality-related bachelor or graduate degree programs at colleges and universities across the country. The Foundation received and evaluated over 1,000 applications based on academics, financial need, relevant work experience, extracurricular activities, personal attributes, and a passion to pursue a career in the hotel and lodging industry. This year’s 310 scholarship recipients represented 38 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nearly 45 percent of recipients are students of color and 75 percent of recipients are female.  

“We congratulate all our beneficiaries and are so excited to help them in their pursuit of a career in the hospitality industry,” said Maietta.

Every student receiving a Foundation scholarship for the 2020/2021 year is on a unique journey, and AHLAF is proud to play a small part in their stories. A few of their stories are highlighted below: 

  • Neel Patel, Age 21 (Lexington, SC): Neel first became interested in hospitality at the age of 14 years old when he immigrated to the United States. His family lived in a hotel while his mother and father worked as housekeepers and front desk agents. He began to help his mom more at the hotel once his father passed away from a heart attack. As a first-generation college student, he now looks forward to taking everything he has learned to invest in his education at the University of South Carolina.     
  • Quanifah Williams, Age 18 (Philadelphia, PA): Quanifah credits her love for the hospitality industry, especially food, to her mother. Growing up in inner city Philadelphia, she experienced what it was like to be food insecure. Yet, her mother always found a way to make food a joyful part of their day and culture. She is looking forward to bringing that joy to others one day.  
  • Jeromy Marcano-Gonzalez, Age 21 (Duluth, GA): Growing up with a single mother, Jeromy says that his mother taught him how to make helping others a daily practice. That’s why he loves the hospitality industry because he can provide others with life-changing experiences. He says that receiving this scholarship will help him to serve his community and benefit hundreds of other lives. 
  • Roxana Castillo, Age 26, (Washington, D.C.): Roxana spent countless hours applying for scholarships to help her afford her dream of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and Tourism at the University of the District of Columbia. As an immigrant and full-time worker in the hospitality industry, she looks forward to making a difference in the lives of others and knows that this scholarship will bring her one step closer to her dream.   

The AHLA Foundation’s scholarships are funded due to generous support from individual donors and corporations. The AHLAF Annual Scholarship Grant Program, the Foundation’s largest scholarship program, includes funds provided by the AHLAF General Campaign, AHLAF Hospitality 2000 Campaign, Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), AHLAF New Century Fund, the National Restaurant Association, Melinda Bush Mentors, John Clifford Memorial, Cecil B. Day Memorial, Handlery Hotels, Conrad N. Hilton Memorial, Creighton Holden Memorial, Hospitality Asset Managers Association, Steve Hymans Extended Stay Scholarship, Richard Kessler, J. Willard Marriott Memorial, Joseph McInerney Scholarship, Curtis C. Nelson and AHLAF's Annual Giving Program.

Additional scholarship programs include: The Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students; the Rama Scholarship for the American Dream Program; the American Express Scholarship Program; the Ecolab Scholarship Program; the Karl Mehlmann Scholarship; the Graduate Scholarship Program; the Arthur J. Packard Memorial Scholarship Program; the Stephen P. Holmes Scholarship; the Incoming Freshman Scholarship, which awards PepsiCo Foundation and ALIS Scholarships; and the Opening Doors to Opportunity Scholarship, which awards the Minaz Abji Scholarships.

The AHLA Foundation will begin accepting applications for the 2021/2022 scholarship season in Fall 2020. For more information about AHLAF scholarships and other programs, visit

About The AHLA Foundation: 
The AHLA Foundation, the charitable giving arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, is dedicated to helping people build careers, improve their lives, and strengthen the lodging industry. From lifting individuals out of poverty and connecting them with a life-long career in the industry to providing certifications to promote current hotel employees into leadership positions, the Foundation's programs are changing the industry by changing lives. We are committed to elevating, educating, and empowering individuals and the public on the industry’s story of opportunity and advancement. Since its founding in 1953, the Foundation has distributed over $27 million in support of the industry and is committed to ensuring a strong and viable workforce for the entire lodging industry. The Foundation is funded solely by contributions from generous individuals and companies who want to give back to the hotel industry and ensure a successful future. Learn more at