NEW NAME, SAME MISSION: BUILDING TOMORROW’S HOTEL INDUSTRY TODAY

We just had one of our biggest nights of the year. Here we are in Hollywood, the land of dreams. A town of stars and stories. Last night at our annual gala -- Night of a Thousand Stars -- we had the pleasure of recognizing several individuals who exemplify the heart of the industry and sharing their stories, in a room full of generous hotel employers. One story is that of a young man from Baltimore. Tevin’s story is a story of resilience.

After his mother died when he was only 14 years old, Tevin and his two younger siblings stayed with members of their family until Tevin selflessly chose to enter foster care to ensure his two younger siblings could remain living with his aunt. While in foster care, Tevin was passed from house to house, never finding a stable home. At 22, he graduated from foster care and went on to forge his own path, but soon after found himself struggling to make his way. 

That’s when Tevin discovered the Center for Urban Families’ hospitality program, which is funded by the Foundation. From the moment he walked in the door, Tevin knew he had found his new home in hospitality. In 2019, Tevin was hired by Royal Sonesta and within only two short months, Tevin stood out to senior leadership. They began to develop him, cross training him to work as a room service attendant, restaurant server, bartender, valet driver, banquet housemen and banquet server. 

Now, Tevin has two young sons, a family and home of his own and a career he loves. And he’s a star of our industry—Tevin continues to receive guest compliments and was even awarded the Maryland Hotel Lodging Association’s Food & Beverage Star of the Year. 

Tevin Barnes

The Foundation is proud to support Tevin’s resilient journey and thousands of others pursing their hospitality careers. 

We have also been on a journey over the last few years. We have always been committed to investing in individuals like Tevin who are the future of our industry. But we want to expand our reach, do more, and make a profound difference. 

As the industry’s charitable giving organization, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with AHLA to address some of the biggest issues facing our industry and to create innovative programs that share the industry’s story of opportunity and advancement. 

As the Foundation continues to grow and scale the impact of our programs, we wanted to ensure that our partners understood the special relationship we have with AHLA, while at the same time ensure that our members know we are a Foundation that is funded entirely by generous companies and individuals who want to give back to the hotel industry and ensure its success.

That’s why, we are formally changing our name to The AHLA Foundation and are unveiling new look with a more focused mission. One that allows us to meet the industry’s needs today and get ahead of tomorrow’s challenges. 

In the past three years alone, the Foundation has increased the number of individuals we serve by 915% and doubled our investment in career advancement programs. Since the Foundation was founded, we have: 

  • Spent over $27.5 million in support of the industry
  • Awarded $12.7 million in scholarships
  • Funded $4.3 million in industry research 

And we have even bigger plans for this year: 

  • Expand our Empowering Youth Program from six to 10 cities 
  • Introduce new apprenticeship programs
  • Grow our Debt-Free College Program
  • Award over $1 million in scholarships 

Each day, I’m humbled by our Foundation’s unique ability to transform lives. The inspirational stories of our beneficiaries are a testament to the countless opportunities our industry supports.  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 creates a ladder of opportunity to help employees achieve the American Dream. 

On behalf of the AHLA Foundation’s Board of Trustees, I hope that you will join us on this journey to expand our impact and build tomorrow’s hotel industry today.