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.

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 partnered with Grads of Life, the leading national nonprofit specializing in helping employers build talent pipelines for Opportunity Youth. The AHLA Foundation distributed grants to community-based organizations in the following markets of focus:

  • Baltimore
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles
  • Orlando
  • Washington DC


Community-based organizations that are interested in additional information should contact Kelly Vazquez,



  • Qui Solomon

    Cook, Hyatt Regency Orlando

    "By attending second harvest food bank my confidence is at an all-time high, and now I believe in myself...I have found a home in hospitality, and I want to thank the AHLA foundation for providing the grant that gave me a new beginning."

    Read About Qui's Story
  • Tevin Barnes

    F&B Specialist, Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore

    “Coming from a city where guys give up, I struggled to find my way. This partnership wasn’t a handout; it was an opportunity. It provided me the opportunity to grow, meet new people and get a real career. Now, I can better my children’s lives. To have a job I love is a dream come true."

    Read About Tevin's Story
  • Empowering Youth Graduates

    Orlando, FL

    AHLAF hosted a graduation ceremony and hiring fair for youth in Orlando, FL upon completion of the Empowering Youth Program.

    Read About The Event
  • Jessica H.

    Guest Service Representative, Washington Marriott Georgetown

    "I see a huge difference in my life. It feels unreal to love my job like this. It showed me that no matter where you come from, if you work hard you can get anywhere."

    Read About Jessica's Story
  • Tambre Younger

    Washington, DC

    The AHLA Foundation team recently celebrated 24 talented individuals, including Tambre, who graduated from our DC Hospitality training program and are ready for jobs in the hotel industry.

    Read About The Event

Our donors give generously. We thank them sincerely.

2022 Night of a Thousand Stars Sponsors

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2021 Donor List

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