How to Put the "FUN" in Fundraising And Engage Your Team For A Great Cause

By Mary Rudd and Matt West

Mary Rudd is the Talent Acquisition, Development and Corporate Responsibility Coordinator and Matt West is the Director of Talent Acquisition, Development and Corporate Responsibility at Real Hospitality Group, a partner of ECPAT-USA and member of The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code).

Real Hospitality Group embarked on a mission this summer to put the “FUN” in Fundraising as well as to engage with our associates and come together for a great cause.  To do this, we decided to hold Real Hospitality Group’s first ever Fete en Blanc Eastern shore and RHG’s second Cycle for Freedom with SWERVE Fitness.

Fete en Blanc 2019:

Modeled after Dîner en Blanc held in Paris, a Feté en Blanc is an event in which picnic-goers gather in a public space to set up a temporary, chic dining experience.  An invitation-only, popup feast to celebrate our associates, the community where we live and work, and the summer solstice. Party attendees must provide their own provisions, table set ups and decorations and are required to be dressed “to the nines” in all white.  To build excitement and pique interest, there is a mysterious twist in that the location is kept under wraps until 24 hours prior to the event.  

As a hotel management company, RHG is working relentlessly to raise awareness and to help eradicate child trafficking in the hospitality industry and the hotels we manage.  We aspired to create a unique and whimsical event that would get the word out and maximize the monies donated to our chosen cause – ECPAT USA. What a better way to symbolize the innocence of children than with an all-white, decadent popup picnic?   

ECPAT USA’s mission is to protect every child’s human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking, placing a strong focus on the hospitality industry.  Working one-on-one with communities throughout the nation, the legislatures and corporations, ECPAT-USA is leading the charge to end human trafficking around the world.   

Attendees received an email on Friday, May 31, to reveal that the first Annual Real Hospitality Feté en Blanc (scheduled on June 1) was to be held at the Windmill Creek Winery in Berlin, MD.  Guests arrived in their finest white regalia and were greeted at registration with a fantastic gift bag full of “all white” goodies donated by our very generous vendors. Activities included entertainment throughout the night, lawn games, henna tattoos, silent auction, selfie station, food trucks and of course delicious food.  Our MC closed the evening with the award to the group with the most grand and opulent “all white” table set up.  

This was a great event which brought together the community and RHG Associates, helped raise awareness of the issue of Human Trafficking and Exploitation and got various vendors involved in this cause. Our first Feté was a huge success with 75 attendees.  We are looking to build on to next year’s event and are now scouting for the venue for the 2020 Feté.

RHG Cycle for Freedom 2019:

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In New York, we hosted our second “RHG Cycle for Freedom” on June 29th 2019.  Our first Cycle for Freedom last year was a great success and very popular with our Associates.  Real Hospitality Group rents a studio with 48 bikes at SWERVE Flatiron District. Associates across our hotels can register a team of up to five people to take part.  The event is completely free for associates to register – all we ask is that they raise as much as possible using our Crowdrise fundraising page and ask friends/family/colleagues/vendors and communities to donate to the team.  The Cycle for Freedom is a fun filled 45-minute rhythm ride and the bikes are arranged into three teams. The team dynamic keeps you motivated, supported, and accountable, without ever singling you out. This was a great event to bring associates together from various hotels who may have never met but are on the same team – just like RHG working together towards a common goal.  Again, this event created a lot of awareness with our vendors making kind donations towards the cause. We can’t wait to do it again next year!

The goal of all of our fundraising activities aside from raising money for ECPAT-USA is to bring people together, have fun and raise awareness.  With these two events, we believed we were successful in achieving our mission.

To learn more about how to incorporate employee engagement and corporate responsibility activities to your company, check out our blog or email info@ecpatusa.org

Statement from ECPAT-USA on Secretary Alex Acosta

It is an affront to young victims of sex trafficking everywhere for Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta to remain in his position, especially in the aftermath of his press conference in which he defended his behavior overseeing the criminal prosecution case of serial child sex predator, Jeffrey Epstein.  

Portraying himself as a hero, Mr. Acosta deflected all the blame toward the State of Florida and the Palm Beach state prosecutor’s office.  Mr. Acosta remained unapologetic to the victims.   

Since the press conference took place, the former state's attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida issued a statement saying that Acosta’s office had drafted a 53-page indictment against Epstein that it never filed.   

ECPAT-USA has worked for 29 years to ensure that children are protected from sexual exploitation. The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act became law in 2000 and is the premier tool available to federal prosecutors to indict people who sexually prey upon children. This law and other federal anti-trafficking legislation drew bipartisan support because there is broad national agreement that children should be protected from sex trafficking.  But bipartisan and broad agreement means nothing if prosecutors are not willing to use these laws against those who abuse children.   

Acosta’s press conference left open a number of unanswered questions and anomalies in the case that other federal prosecutors have raised since he spoke.  We call on the Trump administration to live up to its stated commitment to fight human trafficking by asking Mr. Acosta for his resignation.  

ECPAT-USA, the nation’s leader in eradicating child exploitation and trafficking, remains determined to keep this issue in the public eye and to ensure that Mr. Acosta is held responsible for his irresponsible actions as U.S. Attorney.

We All Have a Role to Play to Protect Children, But First Acosta Must Be Removed and Investigated

If you looked solely at international reviews, you would see that United States always gets high marks of its legal infrastructure to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.  It has all the bases covered: criminalizing and prescribing high penalties for child sex trafficking, child sexual abuse material (child pornography), and child abuse.  

However, the excellence of our laws means nothing of course, if they are consistently undermined by a criminal justice system that refuses to hold the rich and powerful to account.  Of course this is a reference to the financier Jeffrey Epstein who has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney in New York for sex trafficking of children.  Soon, no doubt, charges of creation and possession of child abuse imagery will be added to the indictment.  

The Epstein case has all the elements that are the hallmark of a child sex trafficking case:  identifying vulnerable children and youth, preying upon their vulnerabilities, gradually wearing away any resistance to sexual exploitation and abuse, paying them for sex, asking them to recruit other young girls for sex, and offering them to other men. 

ECPAT-USA has spent many years working to make changes to a system that has allowed these forms of abuse in the United States to continue.  Through our long-time advocacy in cooperation with numerous other organizations around the country, we have built a movement that did two things.  First, it began with building community knowledge about the horrific crime of child sex trafficking in the United States, and what we need to do to stop it. Second, it moved on to advocating for our elected officials to make changes to laws and systems to protect vulnerable children. We continue to be successful in building a strong network of federal and state laws, but clearly, as shown by the Epstein case, we failed to ensure that the criminal justice system firmly enforces those laws.

The fact that the former U.S. Attorney for the Miami district, Alex Acosta, the current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, signed off on a sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 shows the depth of the corruption of the system.  It was a secret deal that failed to follow the law by informing the victims that a plea bargain was being negotiated and accepted. The punishment he received was the gentlest slap on the wrist.  It is clear now there were many, many more victims in more than one city, and the criminal justice system let those victims down.    

Powerful men have long been protected for their abhorrent behavior, even for actions as universally scorned as child sex abuse and child sex trafficking. ECPAT-USA will soon publish a report about child sexual abuse material in the United States with recommendations for how all sectors of society have a role to play.  Importantly, we must not continue to let powerful national leaders evade responsibility.  ECPAT-USA calls for the removal of Mr. Acosta from his position as the head of a federal agency and further calls for an investigation into his role in the favoritism revealed in the sweetheart, hush-hush deal that he gave Mr. Epstein.

Thanks to the critical work of journalists at the Miami Herald this story was unearthed and received renewed attention. Today, we sent a letter to the White House calling for Mr. Acosta’s resignation and a full investigation because we believe our criminal justice system should place itself in a position to offer protection and hope to victims, especially children. Raise your voice to help protect children across the country by writing your own letter or supporting our programs working toward a world where no child is bought, sold or used for sex.

We cannot - and will not - let this case slip under the radar again.

Cover image via U.S. Department of Labor

Investing in AI to Protect Children Online

In this series, Nicole Phocas and Ashley Solle reflect on their endeavors during their time as private sector engagement interns at ECPAT-USA

Last week, End Violence Against Children invited ECPAT-USA to attend a panel event titled “Investing in AI to Make Children Safe Online” to inform industry representatives from a range of public, private, and nonprofit sector organizations on recent technological advances toward fighting issues of child abuse, cyberbullying, and child sexual exploitation and trafficking. After a light lunch and time to network with the attendees, we took our seats to hear what the four panelists had to say.   

The first of the panel’s presenters was Emily Cashman Kirstein, Senior Manager of Government Affairs at Thorn. Thorn’s mission is to eliminate child sexual abuse material from the internet; Kirstein explained how there is a massive rise in cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse in the new internet age, illustrating the importance of focusing on technology.  She brought up a new Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) index on child sexual abuse and exploitation by country, which was developed in collaboration with Thorn to provide researchers and the public with valuable information on how countries are combatting child exploitation issues. Interestingly, the scoring of countries was influenced in part by ECPAT-USA’s The Code.

Of course, just because a child has been liberated from a particular sexual abuse situation does not mean that online imagery of the survivor has been removed. To address the difficulty of locating every platform and location where child sexual abuse imagery might have been shared or posted, Thorn is working on a victim identification software for law enforcement agencies. By creating facial recognition software, Thorn can locate and (ideally) remove the material and protect the survivor. Thorn is also working on research and development, including efforts to make platforms more hostile to abusers and using technology to locate offenders. We found these efforts to integrate technology into the fight, from the index to facial recognition software, to be incredibly fascinating and innovative. We don’t doubt that they’ll be a useful addition to law enforcement as well as victim protection and research on trafficking

Chris Fabian, another panelist, discussed the current work of UNICEF Ventures and UN Innovation Network. The goal of UNICEF Ventures is to make investments into technological initiatives around the world which progress the organization’s goals surrounding the protection, empowerment, and defense of children. UNICEF Ventures is focused on creating an AI program that can conduct data analysis for regions where data is scarce, usually developing countries. There wasn’t a direct link to our focus areas, but his comments on collecting data from local sources highlight the need for accurate and sustainable numbers in order to conduct research on the most efficient ways to fight child sexual exploitation. Unfortunately for now, advanced technological infrastructure is only readily available in the developed world, so the scope of combating sexual exploitation of children through AI is limited to this region.

Dr. Rhema Vaithaianathan, Co-Director of the Center for Social Data Analytics at Auckland University of Technology and Project Lead on an international research effort to create Child Abuse Predictive Risk Analysis software followed Fabian’s discussion on AI programs by discussing her efforts and the challenges she has been facing in the development of algorithms.  Most notably, Vaithianathan and her research team have been running into issues in facial recognition software developing unfair biases when determining the risk that a certain child may face for abuse. The technical details of the issue are complex, but the problem also highlights that child sexual exploitation and abuse can happen anywhere to any child from any background.  

The final panelist is Suvi Uski, CEO at Someturva, a Finland-based start-up which has created an AI-powered online legal service for cyberbullying and social media harassment issues. Uski, whose background in social psychology gives her a unique perspective on a topic that is often strictly scientific, emphasized that AI is critical in the nonprofit sector for reaching a larger number of at-risk people with fewer monetary resources.  

Technology plays a large role in enabling sexual exploitation of children, but can also be pivotal in the prevention and prosecution of sexual exploitation of children. Including AI in multidisciplinary approach to combating the issue is a critical step in adapting to the rise in cases involving the internet.

Child Abuse As Government Policy - A Response To The 2019 TIP Report

Click through to see the full report

Click through to see the full report

There is a lot to be applauded in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report launched on June 20 by the U.S. State Dept., but all of it is overshadowed by the abomination of the treatment of children currently taking place on the U.S.-Mexico border.  What an absurd policy clash: the TIP report rolled out the same week that the horrors on the border are exposed.  

To start, let’s review the good things in the report about U.S. government efforts to protect children from exploitation within the U.S.:

• It recognizes that U.S. children in the foster care system are vulnerable to traffickers and mentions a pilot program to identify children missing from foster care. Policy makers are beginning to understand and mitigate the conditions that make children vulnerable to trafficking, for example, living in an unstable family situation.  

• Appropriations for services for victims of human trafficking and child welfare systems have increased, which shows that there is an increased awareness that children need health care, education, and housing. 

• It is commendable that the report mentions the special needs of LGBTQ individuals - though there is a long way to go to set up systems that universally serve these youth.  

• 34 states have “safe harbor” laws that keep children from being arrested for the crime of prostitution. This is good but, keeping in mind that the movement to protect children from arrest for prostitution began in 2007 when the first of such a state law was passed, there appears to be a slowing of momentum in this movement. At this point in time, every state should provide a minimal level of protection to children who are sex trafficking victims.  

• Other good things: 1) there is increased funding for local human trafficking task forces  2) Backpage.com - which was highly targeted by traffickers - was taken down 3) The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was reauthorized and strengthened again

However, alongside all these advancements, we cannot forget that on the border, children, including toddlers, are being held in detention without their parents - unfed, unwashed, overcrowded, and uncared for.  The emerging reports from these facilities describe conditions that would cause child welfare workers to call the police, remove the children and have the responsible parties arrested.  

This in-progress criminal behavior by U.S. government representatives lays the foundation for making these children vulnerable to trafficking in the future. Traffickers seek to recruit vulnerable, isolated children; children who do not have a safe and secure family setting to protect them; children who have been abused; poor children. The very TIP report itself demonstrates that U.S. government policymakers recognize this.  And yet it is also U.S. policies that are forcing children to live in inhumane conditions that will have long-term harmful impact on the healthy development and well-being of thousands of children and make them targets for traffickers. These two things exist side by side: good child protection policies moving forward as described in the TIP report and a hideous portrait of child abuse carried out by the same government. 

In response, ECPAT-USA has one more “Prioritized Recommendation” to add to the TIP Report: Don’t carry out mass detention of children under abusive conditions.   


Hotel Industry Unites On New Campaign To Fight Human Trafficking

‘No Room for Trafficking’ Aims to Train Every Employee in the Industry

WASHINGTON (June 26, 2019) – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today launched a new national campaign to unite the industry around a single, comprehensive approach to fight human trafficking. The No Room for Trafficking campaign builds on the hotel industry’s long-standing legacy and commitment to combat human trafficking. Already each year, thousands of hotel employees are trained. With this campaign, AHLA builds on the industry’s record by convening the entire industry with the goal of training every hotel worker.

“No Room for Trafficking sends a loud and clear message: we will not tolerate human trafficking in the hotel industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Thanks to our dedicated associates, our industry already has a strong record of combatting trafficking and supporting survivors. There is still much more to do, and our commitment to training and education will continue to make a difference.”

The hotel industry has long recognized the critical role it plays in ending the scourge of human trafficking, and through innovative techniques and employee training has played an instrumental role in identifying, reporting and stopping instances of human trafficking.

AHLA kicked-off the campaign at a strategic roundtable today bringing together industry leaders, government partners, law enforcement and national trafficking prevention partners to underscore the industry’s efforts around human trafficking.

Since trafficking networks often rely on legitimate businesses—many in the tourism supply chain—to sustain their illicit and illegal operations, hoteliers are uniquely positioned to identify and disrupt this terrible practice. Hoteliers can play an important role in combatting trafficking through raising awareness, improved coordination with law enforcement, and ongoing workforce training.

The No Room for Trafficking campaign outlines four core pillars to bring the hotel industry together and build upon current efforts:

  • Elevate issue awareness through increased education, resources and training for all hotel employees;

  • Assess protocols, procedures, and technologies to confirm training effectiveness and employee vigilance;

  • Educate by developing strategic intervention and disruption strategies to identify and report suspected trafficking situations;

    Support by furthering partnerships with leading national human trafficking and law enforcement organizations to establish industry standards and support survivors

As part of the campaign, AHLA is providing new resources and materials for members, including the following:

  • Action Plan for hoteliers to implement that includes training staff on what to look for and how to respond; displaying human trafficking indicator signage; establishing a companywide policy; ongoing coordination with law enforcement; and sharing success stories and best practices.

  • Companywide anti-trafficking policy template for members who may not already have a policy in place that incorporates key elements and recommendations from AHLA partners ECPAT-USA and Polaris.

  • Strategic partnerships with leading national prevention partners including ECPAT-USA, Polaris, Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), SafeHouse Project, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and many others.

  • Member Resource Guide that provides information on ways to implement the AHLA action plan, including where to access employee training and partner resources, downloadable signage, strategies to connect with law enforcement, ways to report instances of trafficking and how hotels can support survivors.

  • In addition, AHLA in partnership with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), will host a series of regional events throughout the year leading up to Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, to raise public awareness and facilitate collaboration with policymakers, law enforcement and hoteliers on best practices for policies, procedures and training to enhance our human trafficking prevention efforts.

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, 2019, AHLA will launch a Member Day of Action, providing a social media platform for hoteliers across the country to showcase their participation in the No Room for Trafficking campaign by hosting employee training seminars, pledging to complete the AHLA Action Plan, and collaborating with national prevention partners to and helping to raise awareness.

“As the leading organization partnering with legislators and the corporate community to end exploitation, we are proud to partner with AHLA on the launch of their No Room for Trafficking campaign and commend their continued leadership on this issue. It’s crucial that the hospitality industry comes together to end human trafficking. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with AHLA to protect children from exploitation,” said Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA Director of Private Sector Engagement.

“The hospitality industry is playing a critical role in helping to disrupt human trafficking through prioritization of innovative training techniques and increased resources for employees. Polaris is proud to work alongside AHLA and the industry as a partner in the No Room for Trafficking campaign, building upon the industry’s work to ensure employees remain vigilant and have a deep understanding of the most up-to-date indicators to spot human trafficking,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris.

By partnering with local, state and federal law enforcement, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, AHLA is working to bring together law enforcement and government officials to expand currently established relationships and enhance partnerships.

AHLA continues to broaden educational resources and partnerships to address employee and guest safety with wide-ranging national organizations that target sexual violence, sexual assault, trafficking and promote workplace safety, including ECPAT USA, Polaris, BEST National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, DC Rape Crisis Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Peace Over Violence, RALIANCE, RAINN, Safe House Project, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Making The Grade: Measuring the Impact of Our Youth Empowerment Program

Our Youth Against Child Trafficking (Y-ACT) Program is designed to educate, empower and develop the leadership skills of young people. Through our workshops, students learn about the  facts, misconceptions and risks of trafficking and are given the tools needed to identify the warning signs and resources to protect themselves and their peers. Y-ACT empowers youth to be the voices of their communities who are advocating against the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.

In order to assess the impact of the Y-ACT program pre and post testing is used to examine the net change in overall comprehension and understanding of the material. Recently, we analyzed student responses from these tests from the 2017-2018 academic year and compiled them into a new report.  The program reached 2,187 students in public and private schools throughout NYC.   

The report shows students have a 23% increase in an understanding of child sex trafficking.  Alongside this increase in understanding, students shared how the workshop impacts their lives.  One student said “I liked how we learned something so severe is going on. Sex trafficking is a serious problem that can happen to anyone including me.”  The report highlights that students believe these programs are useful in their lives as 83% of students say they will use information from the healthy relationships workshop in their personal lives.  It is not only students that believe the program is useful, but teachers as well. Ninety-three percent of teachers said the child trafficking workshop was “extremely useful” for their students.

The 2017-2018 impact report highlights the increase in knowledge, awareness, and desire to learn more from the workshops.  But one student’s comments highlights what this program is all about. This student wrote, “today's lesson was really interesting and made me interested in this kind of topic. I wasn’t thinking about this kind of issue before.  I wasn’t paying attention but now I will and I’m interested. I want to hear more; I want to know more.” YACT has been a catalyst for this student and thousands of others to understand and advocate on the issue of child sex trafficking.

Should Prostitution Be Decriminalized?

By Karen Wigle Weiss

Karen Wigle Weiss is an attorney with over 28 years experience as a prosecutor in the Greater New York City area. She has represented victims of human trafficking in their efforts to expunge prostitution-related convictions and has authored a report on Safe Harbor Laws, which are focused on treating victims of human trafficking as victims rather than criminals.


Many people, including legislators, have a knee-jerk positive response to the question of whether prostitution should be decriminalized because they wrongly believe that it is a “victimless crime.” But, as survivors of sex trafficking report, nothing could be further from the truth. My contact with survivors of sex trafficking, as well as the experiences of others who work in the field of anti-trafficking, overwhelmingly establishes that prostitution is neither sex, nor work and it far from harmless. Rather, it is a brutal form of slavery, often inflicted on children, and resulting in ruined lives.

The question of whether prostitution should be decriminalized must be approached from the perspective of how to best protect vulnerable children.  A nuanced analysis of the question requires consideration of the impact of decriminalization on vulnerable people, including children.

Arguments in favor of decriminalization of all prostitution-related activity are grounded on the false assumption that people engage in the activity voluntarily as an exercise of their own free will.  For the vast majority of prostituted people this assumption is groundless. Often the age of entry into prostitution in the United States is between 13 and 14 years of age. Children subjected to serial rape for extended periods of time are extremely traumatized and completely lack the support necessary to escape.  Thus, it is highly unrealistic to conclude that upon reaching their 18th birthday they are able to make a reasoned, independent decision to pursue prostitution as a profession.  They have suffered, often for years, under the control of manipulative, brutal pimps who have drained them of any sense of self worth and frequently induce them to become dependent on drugs or alcohol. True free choice is well beyond their reach.

Recently, several New York legislators have proposed an extraordinarily broad decriminalization of prostitution and all prostitution-related activities, including pimping, brothel running, and sex buying.  This misguided proposal clearly arises out of a failure to engage in the necessary analysis of all aspects of the problem. The legislators appear to have allowed themselves to be influenced without taking into account several important factors.

First, the group advocating for complete decriminalization has a financial interest in the profitable industry that would result from the suggested legislation.  Second, the people purportedly represented by adults who voluntarily engage in or wish to engage in prostitution as a profession, is an extremely small, unrepresentative cross-section of people subjected to prostitution.  Public policy should be based on an evaluation of the greater good for the largest portion of the population, not the greater good of a small handful of people.

In order to craft decriminalization legislation that reflects reality and supports justice for victims legislators should consult with non-profit organizations that have spent decades studying prostitution-related issues and are familiar with the experiences of children who have been subjected to prostitution.  Criminal legislation should reflect condemnation of what society considers unacceptable behavior to discourage people from engaging in that behavior. It should also reflect protection of innocent people, who are victimized by the bad actors. In short, laws should be designed to protect and promote the welfare of those who are sex trafficked, while holding accountable those who would harm them.

In the context of prostitution, these ideals can be implemented by decriminalizing the actions of prostituted people.  Specifically, repealing statutes that result in the arrest of prostituted people, such as prostitution and loitering for the purpose of prostitution.  And, at the same time enacting or enforcing laws that will result in the arrest and prosecution of people who sell and buy, or facilitate the sale and purchase, of other human beings.  This type of legislation has been labeled the Nordic or Equality Model.

Legalizing pimping, brothels and sex buying harms vulnerable people -- especially children.  Children are regularly targeted by sex traffickers and sold on internet sites. Sex traffickers prey upon children who have often been abused at home, are homeless or in foster care, both online and in the streets.  Legalizing pimping will only encourage pimps to target more and more vulnerable children. Moreover, normalizing the prostitution industry by legalizing pimping, brothels and sex buying risks creating a false perception that it is a victimless activity and leading naïve, immature teens into believing that it is a good way to make money.  Thus, more young people will find themselves caught up in a destructive activity that has a devastating impact on their brain development and their futures.

It is the responsibility of legislators to draft laws that give high priority to the safety and welfare of children.  The broad decriminalization legislation now proposed by a few New York legislators fails to do so. They would do well to re-direct their efforts to improving the social safety nets for survivors of sex trafficking and vulnerable youth, such as shelters, education and prevention services to help youth learn how to avoid falling victim to pimps.

MGM Resorts International Strengthens Global Commitment to Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts

The company is now a member of ECPAT-USA's Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism

After years of independent anti-human trafficking activity MGM Resorts has signed ECPAT-USA's Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code), a worldwide network of organizations working to end the sexual exploitation of children. ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 95 countries.

MGM Resorts has already implemented several measures against human trafficking, including establishing relevant policies, procedures and practices, as well as educating and training employees.  Joining ECPAT-USA gives renewed focus to these commitments and provides the Company with an additional platform to reinforce its internal efforts with enhanced collaboration and engagement with external partners and resources.

Prominent among MGM's standing anti-human trafficking commitment is its active participation in the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force – an external partnership that convenes government officials, law enforcement, business representatives and community members to address human trafficking.  MGM hosted and sponsored two Task Force conferences in 2013 and 2014 and will repeat this sponsorship again.  Furthermore, MGM actively engages in a nightlife compliance industry group, Z.O.N.E., which promotes best practices to fight the use of the nightclub industry as a venue for human trafficking.

"As a leader in the entertainment and hospitality industry, MGM Resorts has for many years taken a strong stand – as a matter of policy and business practices ‒ against human trafficking as a plague on human society that should not be tolerated in any community," said Phyllis A. James, MGM's Chief Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Officer. "Our Company has undertaken concrete steps to raise employee awareness, assure that our properties are not used to imperil children or other trafficking victims and support nonprofit organizations involved in combatting this social evil and/or providing victim services."

For example, in 2018 MGM Resorts granted $250,000 to fund three major anti-human trafficking programs led by the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University – the launch of a certificate program to train professionals to serve runaway and homeless youth; an education program to equip educators with prevention strategies; and commencement of a new collaboration among business leaders, subject matter experts and government representatives to drive private industry to address forced labor in its supply chain. Moreover, in 2018 The MGM Resorts Foundation donated $30,000 in proceeds from its 2017 Women's Leadership Conference to three local Las Vegas nonprofits dedicated to treatment and rehabilitation services for human trafficking victims – the Rape Crisis Center ($10,000), The Embracing Project ($10,000) and The SEEDS of Hope program sponsored by the Salvation Army ($10,000).

“MGM Resorts International’s anti-trafficking efforts have already proven the company to be a leader in the industry on this issue,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA. “We look forward to working with MGM Resorts through this new partnership to strengthen and expand the already active role they have taken to protect children around the world.”

Membership in The Code will add MGM's voice to the global community of opponents of child sexual exploitation, and will enhance the Company's access to current research and knowledge, advocacy and best practices aimed at the fundamental goal of ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children and all other human trafficking victims.