ASU students raise awareness of human sex trafficking

January 26, 2015

When millions watch Super Bowl XLIX, they’ll see the teams battling it out on the field, fans cheering in the stands and the glitz of the celebrity-studded halftime show. All usual stuff for a national, high-profile sporting event.

What they won’t see, and what they likely don’t know about, is the sex trafficking that may be going on behind the scenes. All Walks Project Download Full Image

“Studies have shown that during major events, including the Super Bowl, there is an increase in prostitution demand. However, many people do not realize that oftentimes, 'prostitutes' are actually victims of human trafficking," said Erin Schulte, co-founder and president of the All Walks Project at Arizona State University, an organization focused on raising awareness of domestic sex trafficking.

“With the Super Bowl coming to Arizona, there is a spotlight on how Arizona is responding to domestic sex trafficking,” she added.

Schulte, a student at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, along with fellow honors students Jessica Hocken and Jasmine Anglen, co-founded All Walks, a student-led nonprofit dedicated to developing a training curriculum for volunteers to work with survivors of sex trafficking. In addition, All Walks aims to educate college students and the community about the commercial exploitation of women and children that exists in their own backyard.

Students involved in All Walks – which is a social venture in the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative – come from various backgrounds and majors; they share a common goal of raising awareness about sex trafficking.

“All Walks Project is a great example that entrepreneurs can come from any background or academic discipline,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean of entrepreneurship and innovation. “The members of the All Walks Project team are bringing together a diverse skill set from many different colleges at ASU and applying that to solving a real global human rights issue here in our local community.”

All Walks is partnering with the The McCain Institute and Cindy McCain, the institute’s senior adviser on human trafficking, to present Sex Trafficking Awareness Week, Jan. 26-29. The week’s activities – just prior to Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 – will focus on issues surrounding sex trafficking. Other organizations involved in the effort include ASU’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, ASU Undergraduate Student Government, the International Rescue Committee, Shared Hope International and Red Light Rebellion.

“We are extremely proud of the progress that All Walks Project has made to raise awareness on campus about sex trafficking,” said Garret Westlake, associate dean for student entrepreneurship. “Their natural ability to mobilize student support on campus and to collaborate with high profile individuals, as they are doing with Cindy McCain, are great examples of why they have been so successful in the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.”

Learn more about the awareness week initiative in this video.

Sex Trafficking Awareness Week schedule:

Tabling and Chalking events
11 a.m.-2 p.m., Jan. 26, Memorial Union, Tempe campus
11 a.m.-2 p.m., Jan. 27, Taylor Place, Downtown campus

These events will feature information tables and human trafficking awareness messages written in chalk on the sidewalk near the Memorial Union and Taylor Place. Blue Campaign Human Trafficking 101 fact sheets will be distributed. The tabling and chalking event will mark the beginning of the “Ask Me” campaign, in which trained All Walks Project volunteers will inform student participants about domestic sex trafficking while the students create bracelets that spell out “Ask Me.” The students will pledge to wear the bracelets until after the Super Bowl, and whenever anyone asks them what their bracelets are about, they will be able to give them accurate information about sex trafficking, how it impacts the community and their peers, and what people can do to combat the issue.

Walking through "the life"
11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Jan. 28, Hayden Lawn, Tempe campus

Walk-through display with The McCain Institute, Red Light Rebellion, Shared Hope International and International Rescue Committee. More information.

Lecture, Savannah Sanders
6-7:30 p.m., Jan. 29, Cottonwood Building, room 101/103, Barrett, the Honors College, Tempe campus

Savannah Sanders, a survivor of domestic sex trafficking in Phoenix, will speak about her exploitation in the sex trade. She is a nationally award-winning advocate for survivors of sex trafficking, and currently works with the O'Connor House to promote local awareness about this issue.

Learn more about the All Walks Project on their official Facebook page.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College


ASU Prep celebrates achievements as Super Bowl draws near

January 26, 2015

In 2009, Arizona State University set out to transform a group of underperforming public schools in downtown Phoenix into a single, college preparatory K-12 charter school. The school would focus on serving the existing members of that community and ensuring them an equal opportunity to obtain the kind of high-caliber education that would set them on the path to a college degree.

They have had terrific success. students on football field Download Full Image

This year, ASU Preparatory Academy-Phoenix will be graduating its first class of seniors on May 28. The class boasts a 100 percent four-year graduation rate, with 76 percent having been accepted to four-year universities and more than $720,000 in scholarship money awarded.

Arriving at this achievement was no small task. School administrators worked in partnership with University Public Schools Inc., a nonprofit organization that works in affiliation with ASU, to implement a new curriculum that aligns student outcomes to match college entrance requirements. They also initiated a family engagement program and worked with the local community to establish partnerships that supported college-going for every student.

For Sergio Mejia, the father of ASU Prep-Phoenix student Sergio Mejia, Jr., the changes have benefited his son greatly.

“You can tell the teachers really care about the kids and that they love what they do,” Mejia said.

In the short amount of time the school has been operating, it has already received significant recognition for its efforts. ASU Prep-Phoenix has been recognized as an Outstanding STEM School in Phoenix; it has been the recipient of an Investing In Innovation Fund from the U.S. Department of Education; and it has been part of an exclusive school partnership with the Phoenix Symphony in developing the Mind Over Music program.

Most recently, ASU Prep-Phoenix was chosen by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee in partnership with the NFL Foundation and Arizona Cardinals to be the recipients of a newly refurbished football field and scoreboard. The school was chosen because of its recognized academic excellence, which the committee felt could and should be matched with athletic excellence.

“The Cardinals and NFL Foundation are proud to assist with this Super Bowl XLIX Legacy Field,” said Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, who also serves on the board of the NFL Foundation, at the unveiling of the new field in September 2014. “When discussing the positive effects of having the Super Bowl in this community, you often hear about the economic impact and invaluable exposure the game brings. But just as important are the many meaningful community projects like this that will positively impact the Valley long after the game has been played.”

The new field has already been put to good use. On Jan. 14, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, UnitedHealthcare and Playworks held the World’s Largest Recess there, and set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest game of Red Light, Green Light. A total of 1,100 children participated in the event, which was designed to promote a healthy lifestyle for youth.

Other NFL-related events are scheduled for this week, including a press conference that will be attended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on promoting and ensuring player safety by educating players and coaches about practicing best techniques.

A celebrity football game is also scheduled to be played on ASU Prep's field on Jan. 31, as part of Super Bowl XLIX activities.

For Sergio Mejia, who also has a daughter and stepson at the school, the attention being lavished on ASU Prep-Phoenix is well-deserved. But the reality of what the school has meant to his family is far more important.

“We’re really happy with the teachers and the environment at ASU Prep, and the school has had such a positive effect on my kids,” he said.

ASU Preparatory Academy has two locations, one in downtown Phoenix, consisting of Phoenix Elementary, Phoenix Middle and Phoenix High School, and one in East Mesa on the Polytechnic campus, consisting of Polytechnic Elementary, Polytechnic Middle and Polytechnic High School. To learn more about ASU Preparatory Academy, visit

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657