MPI Foundation Dedicates Funds to Assist Ukrainian Hospitality Students, Calls for Industry Support 

April 18, 2022

As the non-profit fundraising arm of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest global meetings and event industry association, the MPI Foundation (MPIF) serves an important purpose: to fund grants, scholarships and pan-industry research in support of the global meeting and event industry. But when the increasing humanitarian crisis resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began to take shape, the MPIF joined many event industry organizations in seeking an appropriate means to provide aid during the crisis.

According to MPI officials, since its joint board meeting on March 1, the MPIF has been considering opportunities to provide direct support to the meetings and events industry—specifically to Ukrainian hospitality students studying in Poland who have been affected by the war. On that same day, the organization also released a statement condemning Russia’s acts of aggression against Ukraine and its intentions to suspend all business activities in Russia.

The opportunity to support the Ukrainian students was presented to the MPIF by Global Board of Trustees member Dr. Krzysztof Celuch, a Warsaw, Poland-based event experiences professor who has been actively making sure students have the essentials for day-to-day living within their community. He helped facilitate a collaboration with Monika Dymacz, chapter president of MPI Poland, which would become a critical channel for facilitating relief efforts, with Celuch and Dymacz acting as intermediaries. (While MPI has 11 chapters and clubs throughout Europe, it does not yet have a chapter in Ukraine.)  

According to MPI officials, while dozens of international agencies have been successfully supporting accommodations and logistics, most of these Ukrainian students will not be able to remain enrolled due to a lack of financial support and fear of a limited future. It was this specific challenge where the MPI Poland chapter and the MPIF saw a means to support the next generation of event professionals in a time when they need it most. 

“We have been solely focused on being able to add support where there is none,” said Kevin Kirby, MPIF executive director. “While other industry associations graciously offered funds towards overarching relief efforts, we have sought to engage efforts that mirror the foundation’s purpose.” 

MPI Poland applied for a grant, and the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees then directed USD $10,000 to support the educational costs of Ukrainian students in their final year at Vistula University’s School of Hospitality in Warsaw. According to Kirby, there are currently more than 120 Ukrainian hospitality students at the university, a number that continues to grow as refugees cross the border into Poland daily. 

“With humanitarian aid covering essentials, we are seeking to ensure our pipeline of future talent remains in our industry and can complete their university studies,” said Dr. Celuch, who is also on faculty at Vistula University and an MPI Foundation Trustee. 

To inspire more support for this important effort, MPI held a fundraising campaign during the recent Global Meetings Industry Day broadcast on April 7, offering to match an additional $10,000 donated by members of the industry through April 27. According to Kirby, more than 300 individuals representing organizations large and small chipped in from across the globe.

“It was such an organic and inspiring effort,” Kirby said. “Donations ranged from $5 to $1,000. As of April 13, we’re thrilled to share that we will exceed our combined goal of $30,000!”

He added, “While we still have two weeks until the campaign ends, we are very proud of all of those who chose to support these students—and it’s not too late because we can still help others!” 

MPIF continues to support efforts to highlight the crisis, according to Kirby, such as a live 90-minute session (in English) that the Lviv Convention Bureau will host on April 19 with additional regional updates. 

“You can check the [Lviv Convention Bureau] social media channels for ways to connect,” he said.

Kirby added that so far, 60 Ukrainian students are receiving financial assistance, as well as complimentary MPI membership to give them access to industry resources and a welcoming, supportive community. That number of beneficiaries can still grow as the industry continues to lend more support to the effort, he emphasized.

To help enable more Ukrainian hospitality students to continue their education and realize their career aspirations in the meetings and events industry, please consider donating here through April 27!


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.