Private Sector Engagement

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:


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

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.

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.

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.

VIP Journeys Combats Sex Trafficking With ECPAT-USA And The Code

VIP Journeys has partnered with ECPAT-USA and joined The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) and implemented a policy against child sex trafficking. The Code is an industry-driven initiative to provide awareness, tools, and support to the private sector to help combat the sexual exploitation of children.

VIP Journeys’ policy states a zero-tolerance for child sex trafficking, instructs their associates what to do if they suspect instances of trafficking, and also addresses labor trafficking. VIP Journeys began training their staff to recognize and report suspected instances of trafficking in early 2018.

“Working closely in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and other Latin America countries we have always been compelled to give back to our communities, both locally and globally,” VIP journeys CEO and Co-Founder Michael Eiseman said. “As the eyes and ears of our partner Travel Agents and vendors, we are especially sensitive to the role and responsibility we have and that our travel brands. Human trafficking is an international and multi-billion-dollar market whose proceedings are often unwittingly facilitated by the travel and hospitality industries. As a member of the travel and tourism community, it’s our responsibility to shed light on this global atrocity. VIP Journeys manages luxury travelers and by working with our partners to include child protection language in RFPs and contracts, Tour Operators like VIP journeys can have a major impact on this issue.”

“ECPAT-USA is proud to partner with VIP Journeys to raise awareness and use their influence to combat human trafficking in the travel industry,” said Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement. “They’ve hit the ground running and we are excited to continue this partnership in order to increase ECPAT-USA’s reach and protect children globally.”

ECPAT-USA partners with private sector companies in the travel and tourism industries to combat child sexual exploitation. Click here to see a full list of partners who have signed The Code.

ECPAT-USA Launches New Report At AHLA Safety Summit

ECPAT-USA was excited to participate in the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s annual Safety Summit in Washington, D.C. this week as part of the organization’s continuing efforts to make fighting human trafficking a top priority. Along with Polaris, ECPAT-USA spoke about the issue, the importance of training, and concrete steps the travel industry can take to protect children from exploitation.

Additionally, ECPAT-USA debuted their new “Unpacking Human Trafficking” report at the Summit. Financially supported by the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation, the report is a survey of human trafficking signage and training laws across all 50 states. The publication is meant to help clarify laws and facilitate compliance for lodging facilities as an increasing number of states have passed laws requiring lodging facilities to combat human trafficking.

To learn more about how your company can partner with ECPAT-USA, click here.

ECPAT-USA Issues Report On State Human Trafficking Laws For The Lodging Industry

All Materials Required by Each State Available on Web  

Brooklyn, NY (May 1, 2019) - - - To help lodging companies facing different laws about human trafficking in different states, ECPAT-USA, with the financial support of the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (AHLEF), today issued a report detailing what each state requires and providing materials to comply with the laws. The report, “Unpacking Human Trafficking A Survey of State Laws Targeting Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry”, and all necessary materials are now available on the ECPAT-USA website.

 “We know that the hospitality industry is eager to help fight human trafficking, but the many different state laws makes that complicated. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for every company in the hospitality industry to comply with the growing number of state laws by giving them one place to find out what is required in each state and to find the materials they need,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA.

“Human trafficking is a serious, international issue, and our industry, along with others in the travel and tourism industries have an important role to play in combating trafficking networks,” said AHLEF President Rosanna Maietta. “On behalf of the hotel industry and our member companies, AHLEF is committed to working with engaged partners like ECPAT-USA to support and fund research that can bring us closer to help end these heinous crimes.”

In recent years, an increasing number of states have passed laws requiring lodging facilities to display signage calling attention to the problem of human trafficking and alerting the public to the indications of trafficking, the hotline number to report suspicious activity, and services for victims. These laws take various forms and present a sometimes-confusing array of requirements that present a challenge to owners and operators of lodging facilities seeking to satisfy them. 

Similarly, a number of states have enacted legislation requiring lodging facilities to arrange for their employees to be trained to recognize signs of human trafficking and what actions to take in the event that such signs are observed. Other states do not mandate the training but have made it available on a public agency website. Additional states are currently considering similar legislation. Thus, it is safe to predict that the number of states mandating such training will continue to grow.

To help clarify the situation and facilitate legal compliance, ECPAT-USA, with the support of AHLEF, unpacked these laws by preparing a survey of all the applicable state laws currently in effect. The survey will be updated on a semi-annual basis to keep up with the constantly changing laws.

Posters that comply with the various laws, as well as additional resources for hospitality brands, management companies, and properties are available on ECPAT-USA’s website at For states that do not have a human trafficking awareness signage requirement, ECPAT-USA’s Standard Hotel Poster can be utilized.


13 states have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities:

California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia

7 states have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities that have been cited as a public nuisance:

Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

12 states have voluntary human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities:

Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

14 states have penalties for failing to meet the human trafficking awareness signage mandates:

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina

4 states have statutes mandating training regarding human trafficking for individuals working in the lodging industry:

California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey

11 states have voluntary training laws for individuals working in the lodging industry:

Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont

In addition to state laws, there are various agency and municipal regulations, which are beyond the scope of this project. Interested parties should contact their local lodging and hotel association, chamber of commerce or governmental agencies familiar with regulations in local jurisdictions.

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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.



AHLEF is the hospitality industry’s philanthropic organization, dedicated to helping people build careers that improve their lives and strengthen the lodging industry. Created in 1953, AHLEF initially focused on providing scholarships to a small group of promising hospitality students. Since that time, the Foundation has taken on a much greater mandate: ensuring a strong and viable future for the entire lodging industry. Underscoring the industry’s stories of opportunity, growth, and success, AHLEF priorities include scholarships, research and career development programs.

Three Ways Your Company Can Fight Trafficking Today

Companies that acknowledge their role and responsibility in recognizing and preventing child sex trafficking are key to ending exploitation. Since we began working with the hotel and travel industry, we have seen the impact these partnerships have - including protecting countless children. You can use the following three ways to make your company a champion for children today.

1. Through Event Gifts

Now more than ever, customers are seeking responsibly-sourced products that make a difference, and the same should be true when it comes to corporate event gifts. Made at the Regina Center in Thailand, our fair trade keychains not only support our work to end exploitation, they provide income-generating opportunities for women at the center. The project enables women to stay in their villages and keep their children in school, which are two major strategies in reducing sex trafficking.

2. Through Venue Booking RFPs

Companies of all sizes and structures can integrate policies against human trafficking into an already existing human rights policy, adopt the policy on its own, and/or include it in the company’s employee handbook. In addition, large-scale travel purchasing can influence travel companies to take steps to fight human trafficking and child exploitation by including language addressing the issue in Requests For Proposals (RFPs). By making these requirements part of standard travel procurement practice, meetings and travel professionals send the message that child sex trafficking is unacceptable.

3. Through Training

Last January, ECPAT-USA launched a new e-learning to help previously untapped sectors of the travel industry join the fight to end human trafficking. Through the training, travel, and meetings professionals are given the tools to identify and respond to trafficking as well as how to take action with clients and suppliers. Check out the e-learning and free resources for travel professionals on our site today.