AHLA Foundation Receives Grant from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to Advance Opportunity Youth into Hospitality Industry

Through the Empowering Youth Program, AHLA Foundation aims to bridge the hiring gap in the hotel sector 

WASHINGTON, DC (November 6, 2023) – AHLA Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), has received a $605,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support its Empowering Youth Program (EYP) over two years.  

The primary goal of EYP is to address the critical workforce shortage in the U.S. hotel and lodging industry by promoting equitable hiring practices and training untapped talent, including Opportunity Youth (age 16-24 and currently not in school or employed) and other priority populations. This year’s grant expands on the work of previous funding focused on hospitality training, work readiness skills, and industry exposure for Opportunity Youth in key markets. 

“We’re glad to support AHLA’s Empowering Youth Program,” said Elizabeth Cheung, Senior Program Officer, Opportunity Youth at Hilton Foundation. “AHLA Foundation is a trusted industry intermediary, poised to lead this work and improve future hiring outcomes.” 

With this grant, the AHLA Foundation will focus its programming on strengthening relationships and systems between community-based organizations (CBO) and Opportunity Youth, during and after training, and the industry employers who seek to hire and retain them. Through listening sessions – convening stakeholders, identifying disconnects and barriers, sharing best practices, and equipping hotel leaders with DE&I-specific training to address biases – AHLA Foundation ultimately strives to improve the hiring outcomes of the EYP and facilitate stronger feedback loops in the ecosystem of CBOs, employers, and youth. The project will start in Los Angeles, with hopes of broader application across the hotel and lodging industry. 

“We’re deeply committed to elevating untapped talent and grateful to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for its support of our Empowering Youth Program,” said Anna Blue, President of AHLA Foundation. “We’re eager to evolve this work and keep the momentum going to help young people find and build careers in the hotel industry.” 

Parallel to its work funded by the Hilton Foundation grant, AHLA Foundation will continue to invest in the ongoing delivery of training – working alongside employers, community-based organizations, and industry partners to help ensure the essential skills and competencies required for in-demand entry-level positions are taught in the curriculum and that the program aligns with current industry employment needs. 

About Conrad N. Hilton Foundation 

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $6.7 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $3 billion, $435 million worldwide in 2022. Please visit for more information.