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American Experience Foundation Welcomes 25 Puerto Rican Students for a Summer Rite of Passage Field Trip to Washington, DC, July 20-23, 2018

In partnership with the SYTA Youth Foundation, Destination DC’s Travel Education Foundation Awards 25 Puerto Rican Students a Memorable Multi-Day Summer Experience in the Nation’s Capital, July 20-23, 2018

(Washington, DC) - Today the American Experience Foundation (AEF) announced it is awarding students from five schools in Puerto Rico its 2018 Rite of Passage field trip, July 20-23. 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, the official tourism and marketing office for Washington, DC.

Middle school students will travel from across Puerto Rico to the nation’s capital for a three-day cultural excursion. Selected schools include Dr. Antonio S. Pedreira (Moca, PR); Aristides Cales Quiros (Guayanilla, PR); Su Luis Muñoz Rivera (Quebradillas, PR); Superintendencia De Escuelas Católicas de San Juan (San Juan, PR) and Pablo Colon Berderia (Barranquitas, PR).

Destination DC and the SYTA Youth Foundation will guide students throughout the city for a unique, only-in-Washington, DC experience.

“Travel has the ability to expand your world view, and many of us probably remember a time when we took an influential field trip,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Destination DC and our hospitality partners are joining forces to provide this Rite of Passage field trip to Puerto Rican students who might otherwise not experience this type of milestone. I am proud to support and expose these students to our nation’s capital and the travel industry.”

“Opportunities like the Rite of Passage field trip are incredibly rewarding for our students and young adults,” said Leah Chandler, CMO of Discover Puerto Rico. “The impact of travel alters a traveler’s perspective once back home. In the case of Puerto Rican youth, travel can only accelerate the development of Puerto Rico's next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”   

Washington, DC is the top student travel destination in the U.S., according to SYTA tour operators. The field trip will enrich the lives of these students by exposing them to attractions with historic significance, cultural understanding and the power of tourism.

“This is a particularly rewarding experience as these students have had an especially challenging year,” said Carylann Assante, executive director of SYTA and SYTA Youth Foundation. “Travel is an education in itself for young people and the opportunity to participate in the Rite of Passage field trip in partnership with AEF will allow students to take the lessons learned in the classroom and bring them to life.”

Local partners who have contributed transportation, accommodations, attraction passes, tours and meals include:

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • BF Saul Hospitality
  • Big Bus Washington, DC
  • Buca Di Beppo/Earl Enterprises
  • Crowne Plaza National Airport
  • Discover Puerto Rico
  • Entertainment Cruises
  • Fly My Group
  • Hard Rock Café
  • International Spy Museum
  • Jaleo Crystal City/Think Food Group
  • Madame Tussauds Washington, DC
  • Maricar Donato
  • Newseum
  • Norm Hull & Associates
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Starr Tours & Charters
  • Student Watchers
  • U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • U.S. Capitol Visitors Center
  • Viajes A+
  • Washington Nationals

Beyond field trips

Throughout the year, AEF works in Washington, DC to invest in future tourism and hospitality professionals. AEF awards annual scholarships to deserving students from DC’s Academies of Hospitality and Tourism, housed within DC high schools. This year, the foundation awarded $15,000 in scholarships to six students. Awards included the 2018 Gregory McCarthy Scholarship Award, recognizing exemplary leadership qualities, and an academy alumna award to provide ongoing support to a deserving DC high school graduates.

“Thanks to generous partners including American Airlines, Big Bus, and the International Spy Museum, plus many other companies and individual donors, the American Experience Foundation is continuously expanding its footprint,” said Claire Carlin, executive director of AEF. “In 2018, AEF will expose 165 student travelers to the wonder of visiting Washington, DC and place another 160 with Destination DC partners in meaningful summer internships.”

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.

The SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF), the philanthropic division of the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), provides access to travel opportunities for young people that would otherwise be unavailable due to family economic hardship, budget cuts in school systems or simply lack of access to or education about travel as a learning experience. The SYTA Youth Foundation is focused on changing young lives through travel.

Discover Puerto Rico is a newly established private, not for-profit enterprise whose mission is to make Puerto Rico visible to the world as a premier travel destination. The DMO will bring prosperity to the people of Puerto Rico by collaboratively positioning the Island’s diversity and uniqueness for leisure, business and events.  It is responsible for all global marketing, sales and promotion of the destination and must work collaboratively with key local governmental and non-governmental players throughout Puerto Rico’s visitor economy and community at large, while powering economic growth.

Danielle Davis, Director of Communications
Destination DC & American Experience Foundation
202-789-7046; danielle.davis [at]

Rebecca Doser, Media Relations Manager, Trade
Destination DC & American Experience Foundation
202-789-7079; rebecca.doser [at]

Carylann Assante, Executive Director
SYTA and SYTA Youth Foundation
703-610-1263; cassante [at]

Leah Chandler, Chief Marketing Officer
Discover Puerto Rico
787-925-7251; leah.chandler [at]


July 20, 2018
Media Contacts
Danielle Davis, Director of Communications
202-789-7046; 202-603-2093

Kate Gibbs, Senior Manager, Domestic Media Relations
202-789-7072; 202-297-2431

Vanessa Casas, Media Relations Manager, International
202-789-7053; 702-578-0255

Rebecca Doser, Media Relations Manager, Trade

Denise Osei, Communications Specialist
202-789-7097; 301-640-1576