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American Experience Foundation Hosts ‘First Impressions Matter’ Workshop and Fashion Event for Students from DC’s Four Academies of Hospitality and Tourism

Educational afternoon and clothing drive held for 40 students at the Beacon Hotel on April 25

(Washington, DC) - Today the American Experience Foundation (AEF) welcomes students from each of DC’s four Academies of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT) at the Beacon Hotel for the “First Impressions Matter” workshop, a professional dress and online presence educational event. A 501(c) (3) public charity, AEF enriches the lives of low-income students through inspirational travel experiences to the nation’s capital. It is the philanthropic arm of Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC.

The “First Impressions Matter” workshop prepares students from the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, Ballou Senior High School and Bell Multicultural High School at Columbia Heights Educational Campus to participate in the Career Ready Internships (CRI) program in Washington, DC this summer.

AEF supports the CRI program, which provides DC students with access to employability skills training, work-based learning and internship opportunities in their career fields of interest. Workplace learning is an essential part of AEF’s college and career readiness mission. AEF looks forward to hosting three career ready interns this summer from each of the following schools: Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, Ballou Senior High School and Bell Multicultural High School at Columbia Heights Educational Campus.

“AEF’s annual clothing drive is a great opportunity for us and our partners to prepare local youth for success in the workplace,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, DDC. “It is an honor to show these students the ins and outs of the hospitality and tourism industries, as well as give them a different type of experience in DC that they might not normally have access to.”

The workshop includes experiences such as an educational session from LINK Strategic Partners on the importance of a good online presence on social media, LinkedIn and the internet. Other speakers include Tiffany Ingram of the blog Policy & Fashion and Erich Hosbach, director of sales and marketing at Beacon Hotel. At the end of the event, students will receive fittings by Paul Stuart and pick from over 1,000 clothing donations that DDC and its members gathered during its annual professional clothing drive, which ran from March 1 – April 1, 2019.

Local donors to AEF’s annual clothing drive include:

  • AIA DC
  • Association of Meeting Professionals
  • District Experience
  • Embassy Suites
  • Freeman
  • Georgetown BID
  • Hargrove Inc.
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Mayflower Hotel
  • National Children’s Museum
  • National Concierge Association
  • National Mall & Memorial Parks
  • Newseum
  • Residence Inn Capitol Hill/Navy Yard
  • Rosewood Washington DC
  • Stephen Pickhardt & Free Tours by Foot
  • The Washington Hilton
  • The Wink Hotel
  • Washington Area Concierge Association

“Putting on special events is all about the details, teamwork and the final production,” said Ron Bracco, vice president of events, Hargrove, Inc. “I know my first impression to a client can really help our business. Hargrove Inc. is proud to support the American Experience Foundation and we’re looking forward to hosting Destination DC’s career ready interns for a day of learning this summer.”

Beyond field trips

Throughout the year, AEF works in Washington, DC to invest in future tourism and hospitality professionals, in part by awarding annual scholarships to deserving students from the AOHT. This year, the foundation will announce the winning students in mid-May, with an awards ceremony to follow in June. Awards included the Gregory McCarthy Scholarship Award, recognizing exemplary leadership qualities, the David Iselin Community Service award, for a student who has contributed beyond the classroom, and an academy alumna award to provide ongoing support to a deserving DC high school graduates.


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.

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


Danielle Davis, Director of Communications

Destination DC & American Experience Foundation

202-789-7046; [email protected]


Rebecca Doser, Media Relations Manager, Trade

Destination DC & American Experience Foundation

202-789-7079; [email protected]



April 25, 2019

Media Contacts

Danielle Davis
Director of Communications
Julie Marshall
Domestic Media Relations Manager
Vanessa Ryan
International Media Relations Manager
Susan O'Keefe
Media Relations Manager, Trade