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American Experience Foundation Hosts Fourth Annual Career Ready Internship Program Virtually Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Critical public-private partnership with DC Public Schools helps 70 students imagine steps towards economic recovery while ensuring an equitable hospitality and tourism industry.

(Washington, DC) – Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, and its 501 (c) 3 public charity, the American Experience Foundation (AEF), have committed to educating Washington, DC’s youth through the fourth annual Career Ready Internship Program with the support and funding of DC Public Schools and the DC Career Academy Network. Traditionally, the program provides tourism and hospitality industry internships at many of DDC’s 1,000+ member businesses, but as organizations cope with the impact of COVID-19, AEF’s program is being held virtually this year from June 22 – July 31.

“One of my favorite aspects of my job is working with students and supporting their career development as the next generation of leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, DDC. “We’ve been fortunate to be able to provide an introduction to the industry despite battling a global pandemic.”

DDC is hosting 70 local high school students from three of DC’s Academies of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT) – Ballou Senior High School, Bell Multicultural High School at Columbia Heights Educational Campus and Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, as well as DC’s Academies of Mass Media at Ballou Senior High School and Coolidge High School plus four additional DC high schools in the DC Public Schools Career Bridge Program. For 25 hours per week, students are focused on a theme of rebuilding DC’s hospitality and tourism industry post-COVID-19 while addressing equality for all. The students are paid through the Department of Employment Services, while also being supported through the program’s partnership with Education Design Labs.

Nearly 50 professionals from DDC and outside stakeholders have lent their expertise to the interns including Jerome L. Davis, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Ray Bennett, chief global officer of global operations at Marriott International.

“The Career Ready Internship is my very first internship and I’m excited to continue learning from experts in the hospitality industry,” said Anura, a rising Junior at Columbia Heights Educational Campus.

“My favorite guest speaker was Mr. Bakari Ibrahim, co-founder of Caandor Labs. He started his successful career in entrepreneurship as an intern for Destination DC.”

In addition to the internship program, AEF recently awarded eight deserving students with scholarships to acknowledge their various achievements in and out of the classroom. Students from one of DC’s four AOHT programs are eligible for these scholarships. The schools include Ballou Senior High School, Bell Multicultural High School at Columbia Heights Educational Campus, Woodrow Wilson High School and Maya Angelou Public Charter School.

Congratulations to the 2020 honorees: 

Gregory McCarthy Leadership Scholarship 

  • Makayla Cruz, Columbia Heights Educational Campus

David Iselin Award for Community Service 

  • Adame Temesgen, University of Rochester (Columbia Heights Educational Campus)

AEF Scholarship 

  • Jermaine Evans, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School 

AEF Alumni Scholarship 

  • Deranique Graydon, University of the District of Columbia (Ballou Senior High School) 

AEF Alumni Honorariums 

  • Lauren Brown, Howard University (Woodrow Wilson Senior High School) 
  • Jose Martinez, Marymount University (Columbia Heights Educational Campus)
  • Amya McKoy, Bowie State (Ballou High School) 
  • Zoe Roberts, George Mason University (Woodrow Wilson Senior High School) 

“We are thrilled to honor the accomplishments of AEF students and alumni through scholarships and awards,” said Claire Carlin, executive director for AEF. “AEF looks forward to supporting the scholars’ future success.”

The American Experience Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity affiliated with Destination DC, enriches the lives of students through inspirational travel experiences and educational opportunities to cultivate the next generation of hospitality industry professionals. AEF offers students an introduction to the wonder of travel and exposure to hospitality career paths through: free field trips for low-income 8th graders from Washington, DC and across the country; scholarships to qualified DC high school Academies of Hospitality and Tourism students and graduates; and educational programs to connect students to hospitality industry professionals and ensure college and career readiness. americanexperiencefoundation.org.

Destination DC is the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, a private, non- profit membership organization of over 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities. washington.org.

July 22, 2020


Media Contacts

Danielle Davis
Director of Communications
Julie Marshall
Domestic Media Relations Manager
Vanessa Ryan
International Media Relations Manager