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American Experience Foundation Welcomes Rite of Passage Field Trip to Washington, DC

Destination DC’s Travel Education Foundation Awards 30 North Carolina Students a Classic Three-Day Summer Vacation in the Nation’s Capital, July 10-12, 2017

(Washington, DC) … Today the American Experience Foundation (AEF) announced it is awarding students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Carolina its Summer 2017 Rite of Passage field trip, June 10-12. 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.

Thirty mid-grade students will travel from the Tar River region to the nation’s capital for a three-day cultural excursion. Destination DC has partnered with the SYTA Youth Foundation; Academy Bus; Academy Travel Services; Ben’s Chili Bowl; Big Bus Washington, DC; Jeff Ghannem; Hard Rock Café Washington DC; Hilton Crystal City; International Spy Museum; Madame Tussauds Washington, DC; Linda McCue Productions; Newseum; Norm Hull & Associates; Pinstripes; Potbelly Sandwich Shop; Smithsonian Enterprise, Student Watchers and US Capitol Visitors Center to provide transportation, accommodations, attraction passes, tours and meals.

“Every year millions of Americans visit Washington, DC to connect with their history and heritage through hands-on discovery on and off the National Mall,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Many of us probably remember a time when we took an influential field trip. Destination DC and our hospitality partners are joining forces to provide this Rite of Passage field trip to students who might otherwise not experience this milestone. As tourism and hospitality leaders, we can connect classroom lessons with experiences and life-lessons that only travel can impart.”

Funded by donations from individuals, Destination DC members and industry peers as well as an annual summertime fundraiser, AEF awards Backyard Bound daytrips to Washington, DC middle schoolers and Rite of Passage overnights to American student groups. In 2017, AEF’s annual July Fourth Celebration netted a 300% increase in individual donations. “Thanks to generous partnerships with the likes of the International Spy Museum as well as a surge of personal donations, the American Experience Foundation is expanding its footprint,” said Claire Carlin, vice president of partnerships and alliances and executive director of the American Experience Foundation. “In 2017, AEF will expose 150 student travelers to the wonder of visiting Washington, DC and place another 100 with Destination DC partners in meaningful summer internships.”

AEF also fosters the next generation of hospitality leaders by awarding $2,500 scholarships to one outstanding student currently enrolled in each of the four hospitality academies in the District of Columbia. The scholarships are meant to further the recipient’s education at a college, university, trade school or certificate program. In April 2016, Destination DC received the DMAI Humanitarian Award for its work with the AEF at IMEX Frankfurt, the world’s largest annual business, incentive travel and meetings exposition.  

Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 950 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 American Experience Foundation, a 501(c) (3) public charity, hosts 8th grade students from across the country for three-day Rite of Passage and Washington, DC students for Backyard Bound trips. All field trips are at no cost to students. AEF also awards $2,500 scholarships to DC hospitality academy graduating seniors who wish to pursue continued education toward careers in hospitality.

The SYTA Youth Foundation, 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. 

Kate Gibbs, Media Relations Manager
202-789-7072; 202-297-2431; kate.gibbs [at]


July 6, 2017
Media Contacts
Danielle Davis, Director of Communications
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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