Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Student Tour Guides Step Outside Healy Gates

*While most students easily grow accustomed to Georgetown’s campus, many never venture out into the community. Where campus tours are used to introduce prospective and new students to the campus, Beyond the Hilltop provides tours of areas outside the gates. Last fall, Matt Duffy (SFS ’10) founded the organization, which provides tours of Washington, D.C., to students and faculty that cost between $15 and $35 depending on length and area. He runs the company with Erin Kilbride (COL ’12) and Erin Claire (MSB ’12), and most of the profits are donated to cancer research. The company is filing to be recognized as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, and is constantly growing and expanding. The three students sat down with The Hoya to discuss the founding and growth of their new organization.*


**How was the company founded?**




D: I founded the company last semester, and it didn’t start out in its present reincarnation. It started out as just a tour company. I wanted to add a personal experience with cancer. I wanted to raise money to give back to a treatment center where my close family friend was treated, and so I thought that I didn’t have a lot of expertise.




But I kind of had some business expertise working at Midnight Mug and I had some expertise of living in D.C. because I lived here four years, so I thought I would combine the two of those together and start a tour company and see if that would work. And I just started telling friends about it and trying to get some materials together.




**Are there others involved in your business endeavor?**




EK: Right now we have a lot of potential tour guides – people who think it’s really cool and want to be involved in the founding and establishment in a 501 C3 [a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization]. We’re hoping that will feed into those who are really committed and will become officers and be in charge of the tour, be in charge of whatever new service that we do – but right now it’s us.




EC: With accepted students weekend coming up – I think the first GAAP weekend is in March – with the early admissions and also because we are filing as a 501 C3 with the government, we’re going to need a board of directors. So after spring break, we’ll begin doing the application process for that, looking for the board of directors.




**How many tours have you given so far?**




D: Four. All of them to Georgetown University professors, actually, who bought them for their freshmen and incoming students. One of them was chair of the linguistics department or some sort of coordinator in the linguistics department, he was actually the first one to buy a tour for incoming freshman linguistics students and then all linguistic students who might be interested.




**Where do you usually give the tours?**




D: It depends. The most popular location is Adams Morgan and U Street. We’ve also given tours in Eastern Market, and we proposed a tour but never actually gave it to the Open Air Fish Market, which is down south of the Food and Drug Administration [building]. The tours are supposed to be personalized. The information on D.C. is out there – you can go to the library and do research, we can do a tour of anywhere anyone wants to go. But those are the areas that have been popular so far. Adams Morgan is especially one of them.




**Why do you donate the money to cancer research?**




D: That was, I guess, my personal choice when I first started, just personal opinions, personal connections that I had to cancer research that I wanted to give back to. That’s what started the idea. So that was an impetus.




EK: I think the cool thing is that as more services are founded and students come up with their own ways to generate money in a really sustainable and effective way, they can decide where that money goes. So if they have something that is really close to them, if it’s a different kind of cause, whether it be [for] education or whatever it is, then they channel money from their own service that they’ve started into that. That’s why I wanted to get involved, and why I thought that it was really cool. Because it’s not just, `I want to save the world, but I don’t have any money to do it,’ . it’s a really effective way to get involved.




EC: We’re starting with Beyond the Hilltop. So the tours will generate money, sustainable money that we know is coming in. We can count on the revenues, and then we give that money to charity – for these tours it’s to [benefit] cancer research and other services can be to other organizations. The plan is that 70 percent of the money from the tours goes to cancer research and the other 30 percent will be saved for starting new services, other ideas that students come up with. So obviously the growth is exponential because if each service follows this model, you have more services contributing their 30 percent of the profits, which gives more money to start new services, and the growth is huge.




**What kind of response have you received since you started?**




D: We’ve gotten a lot of great responses … We just gave a tour this weekend, a free sample tour, and I could tell that there was one girl on it who was kind of hesitant to the idea but by the end, she was like, `This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I should’ve checked out Adams Morgan before.’ We went and got tamales afterward and it was just a really fun experience. I think people start out [hesitantly] because they go, `Here’s a student telling me about a different area,’ but I think it’s the city itself that really wins them over. And just people who are getting involved, like you said it’s commendable, I think a lot of people recognize the potential of something like this, and they’re excited by it.

EK: It’s fun because it’s a fellow student. You’re not getting a tour from someone wearing a dorky jacket and telling you stuff about what you don’t really care about – about D.C. They’re like, `This is a cool place that I went when I was a sophomore.’ It’s just a really fun, Georgetown student perspective of what is going on beyond our little Healy gates.”

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