In 2017, The Foundation awarded $300,000 to seven local organizations addressing human trafficking. The funding was provided through our General Community Grants, which address a different high-priority social issue in Los Angeles each year.
Just one of the rewarding experiences I had in vetting these quality organizations was connecting with Saving Innocence, which supports child survivors of sex trafficking. With our grant, Saving Innocence will help hundreds of children escape sexual exploitation.
When a child survivor is picked up by the police, the police call Saving Innocence who sends a case manager directly to the police station or hospital. The child is usually scared, isolated, and suspicious of law enforcement. The case manager comes in and changes this dynamic. They let the child know she is not in trouble and that they are there to help.
They start by giving the child a backpack with a change of clothes, snacks, a blanket, and a teddy bear. Surprisingly, the teddy bear and blanket are the most essential items. The girls really cling to them for comfort. The case manager then works with the child to find safe housing and create a safety plan. They visit her regularly in the days and months that follow, helping her get back on track.
One case manager we met with explained that she provides these children with someone they can trust, and who will keep reaching out to them even when it’s difficult, when they’ve run from home, or had an incident and don’t want to be found.
The case managers are often the only people that provide that kind of unwavering support to these children. Trafficking victims we spoke with throughout our site visits echoed these sentiments–from immigrants who thought they had no safe place to turn, to women who had been exploited for years and thought the world had given up on them.
When I think of the impact of our General Community Grants, I think about it in terms of giving these survivors someone who they can trust when they have faced so much betrayal and exploitation. I think of the child who will get to be a child again, the domestic slave who will get to have a life beyond the confines of her trafficker’s house, and the young parent who is able to build a different life for herself and her child.
Learn more about our 2017 General Community Grants.
Warren Fong is a Program Officer at The Foundation’s Center for Designed Philanthropy, where he manages General Community and Next Stage Grants, and advises donor families on their philanthropy.