Marriott International announced the creation of Beyond Barriers, the next phase of its #LoveTravels program. According to Marriott, “#LoveTravels Beyond Barriers” celebrates and supports those who are actively leading unique strategies to promote inclusion, equality, peace and human rights.

“Marriott’s Beyond Barriers is the next step,” said David Jefferys, executive director of the LGBT Meeting Planners Association (LGBT MPA). “MPA had adopted a voice of diversity and inclusiveness because I believe if you are not consciously being inclusive then you are unconsciously excluding.”

Over the course of the year, the “#LoveTravels Beyond Barriers Social Innovation Investment” will distribute $500,000 in grants to groups and individuals who are actively breaking down barriers.

"As a hospitality company, it is our responsibility—and not one that we take lightly—to provide safe and welcoming spaces for our guests and associates every day to make a positive impact on diverse communities," said Cherilyn Williams, director, Global Portfolio Marketing at Marriott International.

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"Beyond Barriers is an expansion of the #LoveTravels program, which has been celebrating and supporting inclusion, equality, peace and human rights since it was launched, and will allow us to dive even deeper to tell stories in a more intimate, powerful and personal way,” she added.

#LoveTravels Beyond Barriers launched September 25 at the JW Marriott Essex House in New York City. The kickoff event featured five-time Latin Grammy winner Luis Fonsi and writer, producer, actor—and the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing—Lena Waithe.

Singer-songwriter Betty Who also performed at the kickoff event.

Marriott Honors Those Who Advance Inclusion

The #LoveTravels Beyond Barriers event recognized the campaign’s inaugural class of Social Innovators, Isabel Rullán, co-founder of ConPRmetidos, Nadya Okamoto, founder of PERIOD, Jordan Reeves, founder of VideoOut and Tony Weaver, Jr., founder of Weird Enough Productions. They discussed how their work is advancing the movement toward peace and inclusion.

Each Social Innovator recognized at the event received a $50,000 grant for their nonprofit organization and opportunities to meet with Marriott leaders and partners tailored to their focus area, in addition to summits, one-on-one mentorship and other Marriott programming over the course of the next year.

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The discussion, moderated by ABC News' TJ Holmes, is the first in a series of Beyond Barriers Summits meant to spark conversations with travelers, thought leaders, activists and advocates to discuss how to make a difference and highlight how travel can be a catalyst to achieving peace and inclusion.

The remaining $300,000 will be distributed via a contest that will award 30 individuals with a $10,000 grant to accelerate their vision for how to advance inclusion and human rights.

The program continues throughout 2018 with additional Beyond Barriers Summits planned for the annual National Black MBA Association Conference in Detroit on Sept. 27, 2018, featuring award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson, followed by the True Colors Fund Summit on Oct. 3-4, 2018, in Atlanta. The Summits continue into next year with additional programming scheduled through 2019.

#LoveTravels launched in 2014 to represent Marriott’s support of inclusion, equality and human rights.

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“We [LGBT MPA] are coming up on our second year and we formed in order to develop an ability to communicate, network and professionally develop within the meetings side of the LBGT community, said Jefferys. “Prior to that, there had been work done for the tourism side, which helped change the way people thought about same sex travel and began a dialogue for destinations and suppliers.”

“#Lovetravels came along and I think it’s fantastic and that [Marriott] was able to put the horsepower behind it and make it a property and a No. 1 selected hotel brand for the LGBT community,” he added.