This school year marks the 30th anniversary of NAF’s Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT), which helps high school students chart career paths in one of the world’s largest industries. The foundation launched the AOHT in 1987 with support from Marriott International and the American Express Foundation, with locations in Miami and New York City. Today, there are 93 academies serving nearly 11,000 students annually across 20 states, including Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Marriott has maintained and grown its relationship with NAF ever since, most recently launching a Success for Youth Program in 2015 under its Courtyard brand. The partnership promised 30,000 volunteer hours supporting 10,000 NAF students and teachers over three years.
“Marriott International has had a long-standing relationship with NAF at a corporate level as well as within specific markets,” explains Deanna Williams, director of consumer public relations for Marriott. “But after establishing Courtyard’s community service platform, Success for Youth, the brand was in search of a partner in the U.S., with the scale to match our own, that would allow each of our properties to participate in their own communities. Courtyard and NAF are both focused on enabling success, whether it be to guests or students, so it was natural for us to work together.”
Marriott is uniquely positioned to offer career training and development through volunteer and job exposure activities. By hosting worksite tours and providing job shadowing, Courtyard employees can introduce young people to career settings and possibilities. According to Williams, informational and mock interviews and guest speakers can also benefit students on a track to higher education.
“Through its engagement, Courtyard by Marriott, along with its owners and franchisee business partners, will work together to strengthen employment pathways for young Americans,” says Williams.
NAF’s Academy of Hospitality & Tourism curriculum includes courses on sustainable tourism, geography, marketing, customer service, and event planning. In addition, NAF academies offer finance and IT courses, tying together the important business and technological skills needed to keep up with a changing industry.