50 Opportunity Youth in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Orlando Placed on Fast Track for Jobs in Hotel Industry

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2022) – The American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) today announced that more than 50 individuals from traditionally underserved populations have graduated from the Empowering Youth Program (EYP) nationwide and are securing jobs in the hotel industry.  

This year, the Foundation awarded $175,000 in total to community-based organizations throughout Los Angeles, Orlando, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. that help change the lives of Opportunity Youth between the ages of 16-24 by preparing them for future careers in hospitality. With a multitude of graduates completing the program from Los Angeles LGBT Center, Pathlight HOME, Café Reconcile and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, these students enhanced their expertise by acquiring either the Certified Kitchen Cook or Certified Guest Service Professional certification. Post-graduation, the program teams up with hotel employers to place the recent graduates into hospitality jobs.  

“These graduates worked hard to earn their certification and we’re thrilled to match them with employers who will help them succeed and find a lifelong career in the hotel industry,” said Rosanna Maietta, president and CEO of the AHLA Foundation. “Our Empowering Youth program is incredibly rewarding and we’re so grateful to our community partners who nurture these talented individuals through the program. We’re so proud of their work and excited to watch them rise through the ranks." 
“We are so proud of our 33 youth who graduated from the program since our last in-person graduation in January 2020,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center Executive Director Joe Hollendoner. “These graduates are extra special because in addition to completing the program during the pandemic, they also helped to ensure we kept the kitchen producing vital meals for our community.” 

“Pathlight HOME’s philosophy is that we are there to give our participants key training and services to help them get back into society,” said Pathlight HOME President Babette Allen. “We are incredibly proud of our graduates, and we are looking to employ them and give them those employability skills.” 

“New Orleans is the perfect backdrop for the Empowering Youth Program. We are a hospitality city, and there are countless opportunities for our graduates to commence their careers,” said Café Reconcile Executive Director Gerald Duhon. “We observed our Empowering Youth Program graduates blossom into full-fledged professionals, and we know they have bright futures ahead of them.” 

“We are so proud of our past and current graduates at Second Harvest,” said Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida CEO Derrick Chubbs. “There is a great need for skilled workers in hospitality, and I am confident that our graduates will help provide the industry the boost it deserves.”  

Four of the recent graduates – Zachary, Michelle, Queenxiaoli and Stephen – are also recipients of the Presidential Scholarship as part of a generous grant through the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Currently, these students are studying to earn their associate degrees from Los Angeles City College. This funding is part of a $1 million grant from the Hilton Foundation targeted towards attracting, preparing, and retaining Opportunity Youth for careers in the hospitality industry through AHLA Foundation programming. 

Reinvigorated in 2021, EYP recruits and prepares young talent for entry-level hotel positions. The program focuses on Opportunity Youth, young adults who are out of school and unemployed but have the desire and resilience to success in the workplace. With the help of local community-based organizations, the initiative nurtures and develops program participants with the training, tools and support that will lead to permanent careers in hospitality.  

By equipping Opportunity Youth with professional tools and trainings, EYP provides its participants with the skills required to succeed and advance in the hotel industry. With the pandemic wiping out approximately 10 years of job growth since 2020, this program performs a critical role to augment the workforce with fresh talent.  
To learn more about the Empowering Youth program here.

 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. 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 www.ahlafoundation.org.  

About The Los Angeles LGBT Center 
Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today the Center's nearly 800 employees provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services, and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society. Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org. 
About Pathlight HOME 
Pathlight HOME (Orlando), also known as Grand Avenue Economic Community Development Corporation, provides safe housing, support services and economic opportunities to men and women in Central Florida. Having served more than 7,000 individuals, the organization utilizes the "housing first" model to provide affordable, supportive housing while also offering culinary skills training, case management services, behavioral health counseling and employment support to help formerly homeless men and women move forward in life. 
About Café Reconcile  

Reconcile New Orleans supports young adults, age 16-24, as they transform their lives by encouraging their personal growth, providing workforce development and training, and equipping them with tools to achieve their potential.  To learn more visit www.cafereconcile.org or see training Interns in action at our daily lunch Café, Café Reconcile, Tuesday – Friday, 11a-2:30p at 1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70113. 
About Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects, stores and distributes donated food to more than 500 feeding partners in six Central Florida counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia. In addition to helping feed the line of our neighbors who need help, Second Harvest also transforms dozens of lives directly every year. Economically-challenged adults who graduate from our 16-week culinary training program are placed in ‘better than minimum wage’ jobs that set them and their families on a path to self-sustainability.