Niagara University’s College of Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management was awarded two grants that will support programs to provide local high school students with valuable skills, hands-on experience, and mentorship in hotel management, and to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the hospitality industry.

The first, a $24,400 award from the Statler Foundation, will support the expansion of the college’s "Hotel Management Pipeline Program" to area high school students. Through this innovative classroom-to-practicum-to-workplace program, juniors and seniors at Cardinal O’Hara and Niagara Falls high schools will be able to attend college classes, engage in on-the-job training in a structured, supportive environment, and benefit from industry networking opportunities. The partnership with the Niagara Falls City School District is part of its PS2 program, which is designed to help guide students on the best pathway to post-secondary success by providing opportunities for them to complete college-level coursework and earn college credits while enrolled in high school.

“The program will bridge the gap between high school education and real-world application,” said Bridget Niland, J.D., Ph.D., dean of the college. “As these students begin to explore their post-high school choices, they will learn about the many hotel management opportunities available to them. The program also addresses the industry’s current and longstanding workforce challenges by growing its talent pipeline.”

A grant of $4,000 from the Hyatt Corporation will support the college’s annual Hospitality and Tourism Summit by providing funding to secure speakers who represent and speak to the power of inclusiveness in the industry. The diverse speakers will enhance the learning experience of students, inspire those from underrepresented backgrounds, and encourage critical discussions among its alumni and industry partners.

“Hearing from various individuals with different stories of their paths to success creates a culture of belonging throughout the college,” said Dr. Niland. “Maintaining an inclusive learning environment and increasing opportunities for our students to interact with leaders in the hospitality and tourism industries who can effectively share their learned perspectives will help to improve the knowledge, understanding, and cultural competency skills of all of our students.”