Experience Columbus is honored to announce it received a Social Impact Award from PRNEWS in the category “Recruiting Program” for its Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP). The awards gala took place yesterday, April 20, 2022, during PRNEWS’ Social Impact Summit held at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia.

Experience Columbus developed its Diversity Apprenticeship Program in partnership with Tourism Diversity Matters, an industry resource for diversity expertise, to help close the racial equity gap in the Central Ohio hospitality community. The program, which launched in the fall of 2021, provides hands-on experience and job opportunities to local students, recent graduates and professionals who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and have a passion for tourism. The paid apprenticeship program is structured to position each apprentice for long-term professional success in a leadership capacity in the travel industry.

“The lack of diversity—especially in leadership positions—has long been an issue in the travel and hospitality industry,” said Brian Ross, President and CEO of Experience Columbus. “That underrepresentation became especially apparent in 2020. At Experience Columbus, we participated in national conversations surrounding the issue and felt we could be doing more in our own community to make an impact, so we set out to create the most robust diversity recruitment program in the tourism industry. This program would not have been possible without the community-wide collaboration the city of Columbus is known for. Columbus, Franklin County, The Columbus Foundation and industry partners quickly provided their support to help us fund and provide these career opportunities and we share in this achievement together.”

The Social Impact Awards honor communicators who use their platforms to better their community and the global community at large. Winners are the campaigns, initiatives, professionals, teams, rising stars, and lifetime pioneers that are helping to usher in a diverse, equitable future and redefine organizations’ role in the fight for global change.

The inaugural Diversity Apprenticeship Program cohort began last fall and completed the program on March 25, 2022. All five apprentices from the inaugural class were offered full-time, manager-level positions from their host sites, which included Experience Columbus, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Hyatt Downtown. The second cohort is currently underway, and applications are now open for the third cohort.

“Experience Columbus and our citywide partners put a tremendous amount of effort into launching this program, and we are deeply honored to receive this recognition within the first year,” said Shannon Jones, DEI Director for Experience Columbus. “We are proud to be the only program in the country that offers every participant who successfully completes the program a full-time position. Combatting underrepresentation in the tourism industry is no small feat, and we look forward to continuing to grow this program.”

To learn more about the Diversity Apprenticeship Program, visit experiencecolumbus.com/dap.

About Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is a city unlike any other. Vibrant and alive, Ohio’s capital is known for its open attitude, smart style and entrepreneurial spirit. Columbus' blend of neighborhoods, dynamic nightlife, noteworthy music scene, arts and culinary experiences, events, attractions and accommodations are all made unforgettable by the diversity of its outgoing locals who eagerly await and warmly welcome visitors. Free travel guides, maps, online booking and detailed information are available at www.ExperienceColumbus.com. Visitor information is also available on Facebook: facebook.com/ExperienceColumbus, Twitter: @ExpCols and Instagram: @experiencecolumbus

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