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Inaugural Scholarship Event Honors DC's Thriving Hospitality Students

Inaugural Scholarship Event Honors DC's Thriving Hospitality Students

Four Local Hospitality Foundations Unite to Recognize the City's Future Industry Leaders

Washington, DC — The American Experience Foundation (AEF), the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s Educated Eats (RAMW), the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.’s Washington Hospitality Foundation (HAWDC) and the Washington Area Concierge Association (WACA) joined forces for an inaugural event at the Westin Washington, DC City Center to honor students and career professionals with foundation scholarships. The scholarships provide more than $70,000 in financial support and complement hands-on learning programs, assisting students and professionals in their educational and career journeys.


The program on May 29 marks the first collaboration between these hospitality organizations to distribute 25 foundation awards scholarships, fostering industry-wide cohesion and celebrating the next generation of hospitality professionals.


“Working with students is one of the most important things to me, and as we look at our industry, our goal is to attract top talent from all backgrounds and show students that there is a lucrative career in hospitality and tourism,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, Destination DC’s president and CEO. “As we pool resources and demonstrate our commitment to the scholars in our high school career academies, our hope is to expand the options for students as they think about their future.”


The scholarship recipients comprise DC high school students and alumni from the District’s career Academies of Hospitality & Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Mass Media, college students and young professionals.


The 2024 awardees:

American Experience Foundation (AEF) Scholarships
•    Student winners:

o    Abide Kao, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, 2024

o    Belinda Alcoser-Gonzalez Jackson-Reed High School, 2024

o    John Thompson, Ballou High School, 2024

o    Kaleb Bland Coolidge High School, 2024

o    Khalil Malloy Columbia Heights Educational Campus, 2024

o    Melany Mendez-Casas Coolidge High School, 2024

o    Trevon Bernado, River Terrace Education Campus, 2024


•    AEF Alumni Scholarship winners:

o    Jean-Pierre Roberts, Eastern Connecticut State University, 2026; Jackson-Reed, 2022

o    Mattison McDonald, Washington & Jefferson College, 2027; Coolidge, 2023


•    David Iselin Memorial Scholarship for Community Service

o    Adame Temesgen, Arizona State University (Master's), 2026, University of Rochester (Bachelor's), 2024


•    Ray Bennett Memorial Scholarship for Leadership

o    DeAnna Mozee, Roosevelt High School, 2024


•    Akira Wilson Memorial Scholarship for Entrepreneurship

o    Evelyn Consolla, Jackson-Reed High School, 2024


•    Joe Shymanski Memorial Scholarship for Photography & Media

o    Ty Monroe, Coolidge High School, 2024


Educated Eats (RAMW) Scholarships

•    Student winners:

o    Eleanor Nichols, James Madison University

o    Nicoy Foster, Drexel University

o    Julie Grossman, University of Central Florida

o    Hassan Purnell, North Carolina

o    Aston Parish, New York University

o    Khalil Malloy, Prince George’s Community College


•    Professional winners:

o    Jennifer Romero, George Washington University

o    Michael Basanta, Southern New Hampshire University


Washington Area Concierge Association

•    Student winner:

o    Abide Kao, Columbia Heights Educational Campus


Washington Hospitality Foundation

•    Student winners:

o    Abide Kao, Columbia Heights Educational Campus

o    Jocelyn Salazar, Columbia Heights Educational Campus

o    K’nasia McKenzie, Columbia Heights Educational Campus


"Washington, DC’s hospitality industry is remarkably supportive and collaborative. We recognize that travel and tourism are vital economic engines for our city, and we deeply appreciate our visitors,” said Claire Carlin, AEF’s executive director. "Our industry flourishes when talented, trained young colleagues join our teams."


"As the voice of the food service industry in our region, RAMW is deeply committed to the development and support of future culinary professionals. This inaugural scholarship event represents not just an investment in individual students and professionals, but in the sustenance and growth of the regional workforce. We are thrilled to collaborate with our peers to highlight the vibrant opportunities available in hospitality and to ensure a thriving future for the food service sector in Washington, DC," said Shawn Townsend, President & CEO, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.


"The hospitality industry is a major source of revenue for the District’s economy.  As such, HAWDC and WHF are dedicated to furthering the education of District youth interested in working in our industry. These scholarships are just one way to show our commitment to fostering the next generation of hospitality leaders, by recognizing students who have displayed a clear interest in our industry through their achievements while in the DCPS National Academy Foundation (NAF) Academies and choosing to study hospitality on a collegiate level," said Lisa Abrams, Executive Director, Washington Hospitality Foundation.


AEF enriches the lives of Washington, DC high school students and alumni of the District’s career Academies of Hospitality & Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Mass Media through educational opportunities to cultivate the next generation of industry professionals. AEF is the official nonprofit affiliate of Destination DC, the destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital. The AEF scholarship program awards $2,500 to deserving students and alumni who have demonstrated success, leadership, and service at school, work and in their communities. Since 2015, AEF has impacted over 3,600 young people including pairing 500+ students with industry-focused internships, awarding more than $175,000 in scholarships, and hosting over 145 high school interns.  Four former AEF program participants and scholarship winners now work full time at Destination DC.


The Washington Hospitality Foundation (WHF), a 501(c)(3) under the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C. (HAWDC), is dedicated to fostering the next generation of hospitality leaders. Each year, WHF proudly offers scholarships to college-bound students in the District’s NAF Hospitality and Tourism Academies, as well as to hospitality professionals seeking to advance their careers with a hospitality degree. HAWDC, established in 1906, is a non-profit trade association representing the interests of member hotels in the District of Columbia on governmental and public affairs issues. Through WHF, HAWDC is committed to supporting students pursuing degrees in the hospitality field.


The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is the regional trade association representing restaurants and the foodservice industry in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Founded in 2004, Educated Eats (501(c)(3)) advocates for the value of employment through the restaurant and foodservice industry and is committed to creating the next generation of culinary professionals. Through Educated Eats, RAMW assists public school districts and local community colleges in designing and implementing culinary education programs, provides scholarships to promising culinary students and seeks new partnerships outside of the public school system. Educated Eats scholarships are designed to assist individuals who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to the restaurant industry. Scholarships are provided to both high school students pursuing a course of undergraduate culinary study, as well as to those already active in the restaurant industry who are interested in opportunities to return to school to refresh and deepen their skill set.


The Washington Area Concierge Association (WACA) maintains dynamic relationships with area businesses, cultural institutions, and community-based organizations while promoting tourism in the nation’s capital. The organization nurtures educational and professional growth for all concierges while upholding the highest standards of integrity and ethics. The WACA Memorial Scholarship (originally the John B. Campbell Scholarship) was established as a long-term commitment to the hospitality and tourism industry to support the development of skilled professionals.

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