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Marriott, SAFE Center to Expand Hospitality Training Program for Trafficking Survivors

By Maryland Today Staff

Marriott International and the University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom, and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors will expand a program to prepare survivors of human trafficking for hospitality careers.

The national rollout of the Future in Training (FiT) Curriculum will span 11 metropolitan areas throughout the continental United States and is expected to train up to 150 survivors by July 2024. It was announced Thursday in recognition of World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.

Trafficking survivors face many barriers in their search for education and employment, prompting Marriott to develop the FiT Curriculum in collaboration with the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery in 2018. Designed with input from survivor consultants and field experts, the FiT Curriculum provides trauma-informed job readiness training, with a focus on hospitality and foundational knowledge including presentation skills, teamwork, time management, relationship building and interviewing basics that is useful in any industry.

The FiT Curriculum was piloted by the SAFE Center—a signature initiative of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State—and three other service providers in Charlotte, N.C., Dallas and New York City in 2022. More than 60 survivors were trained, and post-curriculum survey responses indicated an increase in knowledge of all topics, confidence in skills and abilities, and a 97% satisfaction rate with the pace and content.

The SAFE Center was awarded an inaugural grant from the American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation's No Room for Trafficking Survivor Fund to grow the FiT Curriculum across the country; Marriott International is a donor to the fund.

"We have seen the profound effect hospitality training can have on survivors' wellbeing and autonomy," said Susan Esserman, SAFE Center founder and director. "We are immensely grateful to Marriott International for their innovative leadership in developing hospitality training for survivors and their commitment to empower survivors by offering vital employment opportunities that advance economic empowerment and financial stability for survivors and their families."

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