Diversity Project

The mission of The Diversity Project is to bring awareness to the lack of diversity in the group travel industry, outreach to new audiences who have previously not known about career paths in tourism, and training to bring these individuals into the industry and get hired, or help them start businesses.

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Join our Webinar Series!

Weekly events through 2020

Our initiative really has two main prongs: to bring more diverse people into the group travel industry, and to speak to those of us already in the industry by offering educational content to tell more diverse and inclusive stories. This ongoing webinar series features virtual tours telling the lesser-known stories of often forgotten or marginalized groups and individuals.

Participate & Watch Recordings

“I started my non-profit 16 years ago to mentor and lead black youth into new career paths across the south. Today I’m excited to partner with TripSchool to broaden our mission to bring new diversity to the travel industry, and awareness of the industry to new communities and audiences.”

-Leon Burnette
Founder, Media Arts Institute of Alabama
Author, Civil Rights Trail Tour Guide Handbook

We aim to do three things.

Highlight the lack of diversity in the group travel industry.

There are disproportionately few people of color working as tour directors and guides, or own their own tour businesses. We aim to change this.

From tour operators to training programs to vendors and suppliers, our goal is to shine a light on this lack of diversity, take responsibility, and hold the entire industry accountable.

Reach out to new audiences.

We believe being a tour director, tour guide or tour operator/entrepreneur is immensely rewarding! It’s one of the most incredible work experiences one can have. Many people who enter the hospitality industry don’t realize that guiding or owning your own tour business is a viable and wonderful life path.

We are reaching out to spread the word of these career paths to new communities across the United States. Leveraging existing and new relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, black travel influencers and associations, and other non-profits devoted to the same mission, we aim to diversify the pool of applicants to group travel industry jobs.

Train high-quality tourism professionals.

The beating heart of TripSchool is high-quality tourism training, both online and in-person. TripSchool will donate time and effort to offer training programs that recruit and create the travel professionals of tomorrow.

Individual Courses

  • Entrepreneurship Courses both online and in-person for the travel industry

  • Tour Director Certification Courses

  • Local Tour Guiding Courses

Corporate & Education Sector Trainings

  • Unique Diversity Trainings using Civil Rights stories and experiences

  • Online Courses on Civil Rights History and Diversity in Marketing & Tour Guiding Storytelling

Who are we?

Media Arts Institute

Founded by Leon Burnette in 2004, this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization has a track record of nearly two decades of training and mentoring youth across the South.


TripSchool is a tour director, guide and operator training program. It is donating its time and effort to participate in this initiative, creating training and outreach opportunities among its network of tourism partners, both online and in-person.

Thank you to our fellow supporters.

We don’t want money, if you don’t have it. But every one of us can pledge a commitment to acknowledge the importance of this issue, and work together towards change. Change will only happen when we all continue to work together, holding each other responsible and encouraging each other. We are proud of and thankful for the group tour operators and organizations who have shown support.


We need your help.

This is a grassroots, not-for-profit initiative to bring diversity to the group travel industry. We need you to help spread the word, and offer whatever kind of support you can.

Please stay in touch.

We’ll continue to offer new resources and announcements of partnerships and initiatives. Stay connected with this important issue.

Please donate, if you can.

We understand times are tough for everyone, believe us. Anything helps. We are currently raising money for:

  • training scholarships to make sure money isn’t a barrier for any qualified and interested individual.

  • a media campaign to spread the word about the group travel industry to communities that don’t yet know

Your donation is a tax-deductable gift to Media Arts Institute of Alabama, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The transaction is handled by Media Arts, and not TripSchool.

Become an advocate for change.

Changing the industry is going to take everyone’s participation. There are some simple things you can do to become an ally and an advocate of this project.

  • Hold yourself accountable. We can all, always improve our relationships with other human beings. Have there been opportunities you’ve missed to be more welcoming or inclusive of everyone?

  • Examine your storytelling. Our jobs as tour guides, directors and operators are ultimate about opening the eyes of our tour guests to the incredible depth and power of a place. Is your commentary sharing the story of everyone? Are there blindspots in the stories you’ve told of the history of a sight?

  • Contact the tour companies you work for, and ask them to pledge support, even if it just means right now support for hiring a more diverse workforce, both out on the road as guides and in office.

  • Hold tour companies, training schools, and vendors accountable by assuring that their marketing materials (brochures, social media sites, website) show a diverse and inclusive array of travelers. Ask what they are actively doing to increase diversity in the industry.

Learning Resources

Webinars & Videos

Facebook Group

Reggie Laroche has started the Travel Industry Diversity Council Facebook group, which is a great gathering place for discussion around these issues.

Join the Facebook Group


  • Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
    A beautiful and touching long letter from Coates to his black teenage son, in which he delivers a passionate and personal telling of the experience of being black in America. Published in 2015, it’s still relevant and a beautiful, short read.

  • How to Be an Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
    Kendi’s book has been one of the most-recommended tomes during this time of awakening. It’s focused specifically on racial injustice, is a tour de force through a variety of areas of thought, looking at everything from our own personal racial biases to social policies and history, and offers paths towards actively fighting for a better world, rather than just denouncing horrific acts.

  • These Truths – Jill Lepore
    Granted it’s over 800 pages long, but this panoramic history of the United States makes a point of telling a diverse story of the American experiment, including historically forgotten or marginalized stories on every page. It just also happens to be beautifully written.


  • Talking about Race
    Start Here. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has created a page that covers concepts such as whiteness, antiracism, race, bias, etc. Each topic page is easy-to-read and quite in-depth.

  • The 1619 Project
    The New York Times memorialized the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans into the U.S. English colonies by curating a series of articles looking at the totality of the inheritance of slavery and the slave economy for the United States. Part personal memoir and essay, part economics lesson, these articles are very eye-opening.

Guide Book to the Civil Rights Trial

TripSchool Southern Civil Rights Trail Handbook – Leon Burnette
Leon has written his very own guidebook, Volume 1 in a series, that covers the sights and stories of the Civil Rights Trail through the U.S. South, looking at the events and individuals that shaped the movement, while also covering the logistics of touring the region.