Jun 23, 2015, 09:00 ET
ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Key nonprofits, faith-based groups and government leaders met today at United Way Worldwide for the opening of its United Way Center on Human Trafficking & Slavery. The Center aims to combat the complex problem of modern slavery by gathering key partners to create and implement solutions to stop the $150 billion industry.
"You can't help but be taken aback by the diversity of people and communities impacted by human trafficking. An issue this pervasive can only be addressed by an equally collective response. There are people and organizations, 'modern-day abolitionists,' already doing extraordinary work. But, they need help," said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. "The work of the Center begins today. We're fortunate to be joined by leaders across the anti-trafficking movement, who have each committed to better aligning and elevating our efforts."
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's Goodwill Ambassador to fight Human Trafficking actress Mira Sorvino participated in the Center's Leadership Forum to Combat Human Trafficking, along with experts in the anti-trafficking field, survivors and leaders from faith-based and nonprofit groups.
"United Way, with its community-based reach that is both local and global, stands to make important strides in galvanizing an effective, victim-centric response to modern-day slavery. By bringing many groups together to collaborate, their power to effect change will be exponential, and I am proud to be here at the Center's inception," Ms. Sorvino said.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to join United Way to talk about our ongoing efforts to end modern slavery worldwide," Senator Corker said. "The work they have done to build a coalition of people willing to raise their voices in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act is inspiring, and I look forward to their continued partnership as we fight together to end this brutal crime."
"Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes occurring today, stretching from our own backyards to beyond our borders," said Senator Heitkamp. "Working together we can help prevent our most vulnerable young citizens from falling prey to these crimes, and training others to recognize and help victims. Our fight against these crimes continues, and discussions like this one are key to raising awareness and helping find solutions."
At the forum, United Way Worldwide facilitated a series of cross-sector discussions, taking the first steps to develop innovative partnerships to elevate and scale the response to combat human trafficking. The United Way Center will continue to convene leading nonprofits and religious organizations to launch innovative partnerships in increasing victim identification, expanding access to services for survivors, eliminating slavery in business supply chains and targeting prevention efforts.
At the event, United Way Worldwide announced it will be the first nonprofit to become a Made In A Free World organization. United Way Worldwide will work with Made In A Free World's technology, including the most comprehensive forced labor database in the world, to assess risk for forced labor in the goods and services that are purchased by the organization.
"Committing to end slavery must also mean looking inward," Mr. Gallagher said. "By partnering with Made In A Free World we're ensuring that United Way Worldwide takes a responsible approach to its own supply chains of goods and services that we purchase."
"By doing this, United Way is truly 'walking the walk' and setting a good example for other organizations, public and private, to follow to reduce their slavery footprint," Ms. Sorvino added.
Text ENDSLAVERY to 51555 or visit UnitedWay.org to learn more about United Way Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery.
The Leadership Forum and the launch of the United Way Center on Human Trafficking & Slavery is made possible by the Sabre and the Carlson Family Foundations.
About United Way Worldwide
With 2.6 million volunteers and 9.6 million donors worldwide, and more than $5 billion raised every year, United Way is the world's largest privately-funded nonprofit. We're engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create community solutions that improve life for everyone. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited
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