The AHLA Foundation's Empowering Youth Program recruits young people for entry-level hotel positions, and with the help of local community-based organizations (CBOs), it nurtures and develops them with the training, tools and support that will lead to permanent careers in hospitality. The program focuses on Opportunity Youth, young adults ages 16-24 who are out of school and unemployed but have the desire and resilience to success in the workplace.

Currently, there are six million opportunity youth seeking employment across the country while at the same time the hospitality industry is facing over 800,000 job vacancies. 

The Foundation is helping the hotel and lodging industry fill this critical labor shortage long-term by uniting with CBO partners to prepare these youth for careers in hospitality. It aims to increase post-hire retention through pre-employment skills development leading to certification, work-based experiences and wraparound support services.

For young adults, the program provides pathways to opportunity and success that will lead to lifelong employment. For employers, it will increase access to quality talent for in-demand positions and improve staff retention year after year. 

To execute this work, the Foundation has partnered with Grads of Life, the leading national nonprofit specializing in helping employers build talent pipelines for Opportunity Youth. In 2020, the Foundation will be distributing $750,000 to community-based organizations in the following markets of focus:

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • Washington DC


Community based organizations who are interested in applying for 2020 grant funding should contact Shelly Weir,, to obtain the Request for Proposal.



bridging the job gap
Learn how AHLA is helping to bridge the employment gap

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