Blackstone, Hilton Worldwide Launch Education Program for Veterans

NEW YORK—Global asset manager Blackstone, in partnership with its portfolio company Hilton Worldwide, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Kendall College in Chicago, are proud to announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind hospitality education program designed to help veterans and their spouses receive the experience and knowledge that can lead to a meaningful career in hospitality management. The announcement was made in conjunction with President Obama’s speech to the American Legion Convention.

This educational program offers enrollment in courses at Kendall College’s School of Hospitality Management, the cost of which can be covered by GI Bill funds, and a six-month internship at a Hilton Worldwide property. Students who successfully complete the necessary coursework and internship will receive a Certification of Completion, college credit toward a degree, and experience that positions them to transition into full-time employment with Hilton or other hospitality companies. The program is being offered in coordination with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In April 2013, in support of the White House’s “Joining Forces” initiative, Blackstone committed to hiring 50,000 American veterans across its portfolio over five years. In May 2014, Blackstone announced that it had already hired more than 10,000 veterans since making that pledge. As part of Blackstone’s Veterans Hiring Initiative, each September, the firm hosts a summit to support the hiring of American veterans across its portfolio companies. At the summit, hiring executives and government officials work together to plan the continued fulfillment of this pledge.

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“We are proud to help launch an important pilot program that will assist veterans in their transition to new careers following their military service,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone. “Veterans have exceptional skills and talents that are highly attractive to employers, and we have seen a terrific response on the part of our portfolio companies to follow through and create real employment opportunities for the men and women of the United States Military. This program will help veterans apply their skills in new ways, offer the opportunity to train with a world leading hospitality company and access available jobs. We continue to proudly support the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative and applaud the Administration’s leadership in supporting our nation’s veterans.”

Coinciding with Blackstone’s Veterans Hiring Initiative, Hilton Worldwide launched its “Operation: Opportunity” initiative, including innovative public-private partnerships and a commitment to hire 10,000 veterans within five years. Working with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), the company is donating millions of Hilton HHonors points that veterans can redeem for free hotel stays while seeking jobs, both within and outside the company. It is also implementing veteran apprentice programs, on-the-job training and management development programs with the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. Hilton Worldwide has been recognized as one of the “Top Ten Companies for Veterans” by DiversityInc and one of the “Top Military Friendly Employers” by GI Jobs.

“At Hilton Worldwide, we are strongly committed to supporting our veterans and their families. For nearly a century now, we have proudly welcomed veterans to our company, and many of our best leaders served in the military before joining us, including our founder Conrad Hilton who was a U.S. Army veteran,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide. “The hospitality industry requires many of the same skill sets as the military since both are 24/7 operations that require a high degree of professionalism and expertise across many different job functions. As the fastest growing and largest hospitality company by rooms in the world, we offer extensive opportunities to advance over time, and the 10,000 veterans and military spouses joining our team will be integral to our future success.”

“Blackstone and Hilton have really demonstrated what it means to be Veteran-committed employers. I encourage other employers to follow their lead and develop innovative programs that effectively utilize GI Bill benefits to provide training that supports meaningful employment for Veterans, Transitioning Service members, and their families,” said Rosye Cloud, senior advisor for veteran employment at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Kendall College is committed to providing veterans opportunities in the hospitality and culinary fields,” said Emily Williams Knight, president of Kendall College. “We are proud to be working alongside both Hilton and the Veterans Administration to achieve this goal. This unique educational program affords veterans the opportunity to take coursework from the number one hospitality school in Chicago, while at the same time, gaining practical experience through a six-month internship with a world class hospitality brand. Having a pathway to a career in the hospitality industry from the moment they enter the program, will give them a goal to work towards, and will help to keep them on track. As the daughter of two Navy veterans and a former military spouse, I understand the benefits this program will bring the veteran community and their families.”