The VISIT DENVER Foundation announced today it has reached a milestone this year by topping the $1 million mark in local community contributions primarily in the form of educational scholarships for students pursuing a career in the travel and tourism industry.

“While VISIT DENVER has successfully produced years of healthy tourism growth placing Denver among the top destinations in the country, the VISIT DENVER Foundation has been helping to jump start the careers of local aspiring travel and tourism professionals,” said Richard W. Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER.  “This is a proud milestone that illustrates our longstanding commitment toward our community and the industry that generates so much prosperity for our local economy.”

Since its inception in 2000, the VISIT DENVER Foundation has awarded 362 student scholarships worth a combined total exceeding $1 million. Many of these students have successfully pursued careers in the travel & tourism industry.

Foundation contributions also support the general advancement of the travel & tourism industry in the Metro Denver area through activities and projects that enhance education, professional workforce development and training for individuals involved in or interested in the profession.

“We are grateful to the VISIT DENVER Foundation,” said Johnson & Wales University president, Richard Wiscott, PhD. ”These scholarships allow Johnson & Wales University students to excel in their education and gain valuable ‘real world’ experience in the travel and tourism industry.”

The majority of these funds provide scholarships designed to support undergraduate students pursuing degrees in the travel & tourism industry at accredited, four-year universities or colleges in Colorado, but the Foundation also has contributed $110,000 to support educational opportunities associated with Denver's Road Home, a local community initiative managed by the City of Denver that provides support for homeless people.

“The Visit Denver Foundation Scholarship is instrumental in helping support the next generation of hospitality, tourism and events professionals needed in one Colorado’s largest industries,” said Jackson Lamb, Metropolitan State University of Denver professor of hospitality. “Many of our students are already working in the hospitality industry, and these scholarships help minimize student debt while allowing them to identify and explore new opportunity they may not have thought of otherwise.”

The VISIT DENVER Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is supported by VISIT DENVER, The Convention and Visitors Bureau, and by individuals and corporations in the Denver metro area and beyond through fundraising events including VISIT DENVER Chairman's Cup and Membership Open Golf Tournament and Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame Dinner.