Educational Foundation & Scholarships

NEIRA's Educational Foundation was formed in 2021 to continue to encourage and support interest, training, and education in the hospitality services industry. Through these efforts we provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships to students of the hospitality industry, as well as educational programs to individuals and groups actively working in hospitality. The NEIRA Educational Foundation is a non-profit with a 501(c)3 designation and registered with the NH Charitable Trust. Donations made to the foundation are tax-deductible.      


Scholarships are open to any student (any age) who resides or attends school in New England and is pursuing a career or enhancing their current career in the lodging, culinary or hospitality field. Applicants may be graduates of accredited high schools, high school students or post secondary students. Applications for scholarships open in February. NEIRA's Educational Foundation is pleased to offer the Hospitality Education Scholarships listed below.

2024-25 Scholarship Application

*Deadline to submit an application is March 15, 2024

Rolf T. Hammer Hospitality Education Scholarship 

Rolf T. Hammer passed away on March 17, 2013. Rolf was a retired innkeeper, who owned and operated The Homestead Inn in New Milford, CT for 18 years. He was a past president of NEIRA and a Life Member. In 28 years of membership with NEIRA, Rolf never missed an Annual, Spring or Board of Directors meeting. The NEIRA Board of Directors is honoring his dedication to NEIRA and the hospitality industry with a scholarship in his name.

2024 Scholarship - $4,000

Lavin Family Scholarship

Joe and Jill Lavin bought the Norwich Inn in Norwich, Vermont in 2006. They immediately became active in New England Inns and Resorts Association (NEIRA).  Joe was president in 2014, remains a board member and has served on the Rolf T. Hammer Scholarship Committee since its inception in 2014. The Lavin Family Scholarship was established in 2021 and was inspired by successful fundraising and identification of the many worthy applicants by the Rolf T. Hammer Scholarship. 

2024 Scholarship - $4,000

Bob Smith Hospitality Education Scholarship

Robert 'Bob' Smith was a lifelong hospitality icon, beginning at a Night Auditor during his college years at University of Southern Maine, until he retired in May 2022. Bob passed away later that year but left an incredible mark on the industry.  Bob was known as the Lighthouse Keeper at Sebasco Harbor Resort, where he owned and operated it for 25 years until his retirement.  Bob served as NEIRA President, received legacy membership and in 2018 was the recipient of NEIRA's highest honor,  The Masters of New England Innkeeping Lifetime Achievement Award.  Bob's spirit and dedication to NEIRA's mission will continue through this scholarship as it was his continued quest to mentor, teach and guide the next generation of innkeepers. 

2024 Scholarship - $4,000

Travel Auction to benefit the Educational Foundation

The online auction is our only fundraiser for the scholarship program. We have raised over $131,000 since 2014 and have given 30 students scholarships to pursue a career in hospitality. 100% of the auction proceeds benefit the NEIRA Educational Foundation. The 12th annual online auction will open in October 2024. Check back for details.