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After a three-year hiatus, DC students join Backyard Bound experience in nation's capital

Washington, DC -- The American Experience Foundation (AEF) today hosts its seventh Backyard Bound field trip including an overnight stay in Washington, DC for the first time since 2019 as part of the two-day hometown trip. A 501c-3 nonprofit, AEF invests in high school students in the local community through inspiring travel experiences and a hands-on introduction to the hospitality industry. AEF is the affiliate non-profit foundation of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC.

•    Thirty high school students from DC’s Academies of Hospitality and Tourism, Culinary, and Mass Media were chosen to participate in a cultural excursion in Washington, DC.

•    Students were selected based on academic performance and attend the following academies: Jackson-Reed High School, Coolidge High School, Roosevelt High School, Ballou High School and Columbia Heights Educational Campus.

•    Destination DC has partnered with hospitality leaders to provide an unforgettable trip. Hosting partners donating their time and/or in-kind services include:

o    Grand Hyatt Washington

o    The Duck & The Peach

o    Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

o    Monumental Sports

o    Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

o    Washington Auto Show


“I count working with American Experience Foundation students as one of the highlights of my career,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC. “We’re fortunate to have committed partners to help show students the ins and outs of the hospitality and tourism industries, and most importantly, expose them to the vast and perhaps unexpected career paths available.”


Students will explore various neighborhoods during the trip, enjoy hands-on experiences and engage with local hospitality leaders. Activities include:

•    Behind-the-scenes tour of the Grand Hyatt Washington DC

•    Visit to Eastern Market with a culinary experience and lunch at The Duck & The Peach

•    Tour of Capital One Arena and talk by Monumental Sports

•    Georgetown vs. DePaul men’s basketball game

•    Tour of the Old Post Office Tower and observatory views of Washington, DC

•    Experience at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

•    Discussion at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

•    Visit to the Washington Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center


“We are excited to kick off 2023 and restart the Backyard Bound overnight field trip for 40 well-deserving students and share the treasures of Washington, DC,” said Claire Carlin, executive director, AEF and vice president, partnerships and alliances, Destination DC. “We are eager to continue inspiring DC’s high school students with travel experiences and educational programs that expose and inspire the next leaders in hospitality.”


Through AEF’s affiliation with Destination DC and leveraging its nearly 1,000+ member businesses, the organization is uniquely positioned to open doors for students, fill a need for career exposure and create pathways to success.


AEF in Action this Spring:

•    AEF has more than $100,000 awarded in scholarships to current students and alumni of the Academies of Hospitality and Tourism over the past nine years (2015). The scholarships support students on their journeys through higher education. •    On Thursday, March 16, 2023, Academy senior high school students will join AEF and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for a day at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where they will get a behind-the-scenes tour, meet with executives and recruiters and learn about careers available in the aviation industry.


AEF By the Numbers (2022 Annual Review):

•    225 students participated in AEF programs.

•    27 interns were hosted by AEF and Destination DC

•    Eight students were awarded scholarships.

•    Three Academy graduates became staff members at Destination DC. They include Zoe Roberts and Diamond Hunter (Jackson-Reed HS, 2018) and Cayla Lewis (Columbia Heights Educational Campus, 2019)


AEF’s Annual Programs:

•    Inspire through free field trips to the nation’s capital for students from DC and across the country

•    Train through internships and work-based learning opportunities to connect students with hospitality industry professionals

•    Educate through scholarships to qualified students and alumni from DC’s 10 high school Academies of Hospitality & Tourism, Culinary Arts and Mass Media


The American Experience Foundation
The American Experience Foundation (AEF) enriches the lives of students and young people through inspirational travel experiences, educational opportunities, and connections to professionals to cultivate the next generation of hospitality industry leaders. AEF is the non-profit affiliated with Destination DC, Washington DC’s official destination marketing organization and convention and tourism corporation.


Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization 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.


Contact: Susan O’Keefe, media relations manager, trade 202-789-7049

January 23, 2023

Media Contacts

Danielle Davis
Vice President of Communications
Susan O'Keefe
Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, Trade
Nicole Nussbaum
Global Media Manager
Goldy Fogel
Global Media Manager
Kyle Deckelbaum
Domestic Media Relations Manager
Claire Deegan
Communications Coordinator
(202) 789-7059