Today, Governor Newsom signed 3Strands Global Foundation-sponsored bill SB 14 into law. Human trafficking is a bipartisan issue, and this legislation will protect survivors, make human trafficking against minors a serious felony in the state of California, and ignite prevention efforts so that minors never have to endure this heinous crime.
“This law is going to give a greater voice to the multitudes of victims who have suffered from this vicious, humanity-denying crime,” said Ashlie Bryant, CEO 3Strands Global Foundation. “As the Sponsor of SB 14, we are thankful for Senator Grove’s leadership and tenacity ensuring that this legislation crosses the finish line. This law will protect victims, strengthen prevention, and increase the prosecution of those who repeatedly buy and sell children.”
3Strands Global Foundation would like to thank Governor Newsom and the First Partner for their passion and dedication to end human trafficking in the state of California.
We also would be remiss if we didn't thank every citizen in California who raised their voice to support this bill. Because of you, the Governor, Assembly, and Senate understand the importance of keeping California's children safe.
NATIONAL PBS BROADCAST
26 Seconds ISIS Sex Slaves will reach more than 2 million viewers when it premieres on the PBS network. With its 350 stations nationwide, PBS will bring this poignant and powerful documentary to a broad and diverse audience. This film is a timely reminder of the value of vigilance in the fight for equality and freedom.
26 Seconds ISIS Sex Slaves will deliver a compelling emotional journey, raise awareness of this urgent issue, and challenge each of us to stand up for innocent women and children worldwide.
The release date on Epoch TV is NOW November 24, 2023.
RAGAS (Rotary Action Group Against Slavery) looks to provide information aboutt, and promote ways for you to engage and support anti-slavery and human trafficking projects, programs and campaigns.
Check out the latest RAGAS newsletter:
Today, you have an incredible opportunity to support the long-term sustainability of our programs and services on behalf of trafficking survivors. The last three years have challenged us all in ways we could not have imagined. The current economic headwinds are impacting businesses and nonprofits alike. Free to Thrive is not immune from these challenges. We have persevered through these hard times and continue to serve our clients, thanks to your generous support. We truly would not be able to do this impactful work without you.
The Zable Foundation has awarded Free to Thrive a $500,000 matching grant. In order to unlock this gift, we need to raise the entire $500,000 before September 30, 2023. We are currently $65,000 away from that audacious goal! I am reaching out today in the hope that you will help us raise the remaining funds.
With deepest gratitude,
Every dollar you donate will be DOUBLED by the Zable Foundation. Please support survivors and donate today.
At Free to Thrive, we fulfill our mission of empowering human trafficking survivors by providing much needed holistic legal and support services. Because our primary purpose is delivering services, it takes a lot of people power to serve our clients. Without our dedicated staff, our clients would not have the same access to critical, life-changing legal services and resources.
At Free to Thrive, our mission, our programs and our services are not possible without our incredibly dedicated staff, we count on your continued support so that we continue this life-changing work. I hope you take a moment to get to know our dedicated Dream Team here.
Because of our services, our clients see limitless opportunities: working towards their own home or car, obtaining an education, pursuing the career of their dreams, gaining custody or increased visitation of their children. Our services allow us to accompany our clients on a truly transformative and invaluable journey.
We are thrilled to announce that SB14 has PASSED through the California Assembly's Public Safety Committee and is now headed to Appropriations. This is a victory in our fight against human trafficking of minors.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who fought tirelessly for this bill’s passage - State Senator Shannon Grove, the public safety committee members, our dedicated team at 3Strands Global Foundation, and YOU, our resilient community of supporters. Your voices, your actions, and your unwavering commitment to our cause have been instrumental in making this monumental change possible.
This victory is a powerful testament to what we can achieve when we unite in the fight against human trafficking.
However, the journey doesn’t end here. Let’s continue to stand together, support each other, and fight for justice and protection for our children.
Thank you for standing with us. Today, we celebrate, but tomorrow, we continue our work, knowing we’re one step closer to a world FREE from human trafficking.
The Budget Act of 2023 has been released and includes Cast's request of an additional $7 million per year for three years for human trafficking service providers!
The Budget Act also allocated $10 million from our 2021 Budget Act funding.
Human trafficking service providers across California will receive $27 million for this year and $17 million for each of the two years following.
By collectively raising our voices, we made a difference and ensured that the doors of human trafficking service providers will stay open to support survivors. We appreciate your ongoing dedication to this cause and your commitment to advocating for the most vulnerable members of our community.
This Month, PACT is Celebrating 8 Wonderful Years!
....and we still have more students to protect!
Since June 2015, PACT has provided awareness, education, and training programs to help adults and students know how to Detect, Defend, and Disrupt unscrupulous predators.
So, thanks to all of you for your support!
From all of our first-time donors to our monthly donors and all of the Rotarians, Rotary Clubs, and Rotary Districts, Churches, and Youth Groups that supported our SACT Training Programs this year...a big thank you!
A Special Congratulations to all of the students this school year that received your SACT Certification through our international SACT Training Programs.
You have made a difference in your community and the world and will continue to advocate against all forms of exploitation and more importantly protect those around you. You are our HOPE!
WELCOME OUR NEW SUMMER INTERNS
Joining our new 2023 Summer SACT Intern Program will be Madison Edwards who just graduated from First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Madison also just completed her final year as a Rotary Interact member. This next school year Madison will join the Rotaract team in Jacksonville.
The 2023 Global Slavery Index reports that there has been a 10 million victim increase in modern slavery/human trafficking (MS/HT) over the last five years. On any given day there are 50 million people living in MS/HT and the world’s wealthiest economies are importing almost US$468 billion worth of products at risk of being made with forced labor. The worsening situation has been brought about by factors such as armed conflicts, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. While countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, and Norway have introduced anti-slavery legislation during the last five years, on the whole government action has stagnated worldwide.
The report outlines 5 recommendations for government action to address modern slavery:
Download a copy of the 2023 Global Slavery index here. It is 172 pages but the Executive Summary is only three pages and worth a read: https://humantraffickingsearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Global-Slavery-Index-2023.pdf
Every year, Free to Thrive recognizes the individuals and law firms who have made a memorable, lasting impact on us, making our work particularly meaningful. This year's recipients of our Thriver Award, Pro Bono Advocate for Justice Award and Law Firm Paragon Award are no exception to the standard of excellence set by past awardees. We express our most heartfelt gratitude to Mara for placing her trust in us to serve her legal needs, to Gabby for her passionate and kind pro bono work, and to Cage & Miles, LLP for remaining steadfast in their multifaceted support of Free to Thrive.
You’re invited to join us at Brewing a Brighter Future on June 21st to celebrate their accomplishments and impact. Continue reading to learn more about our 2023 awardees.
Thriver Award: Mara
Mara grew up in a family that didn't talk about feelings and she witnessed frequent altercations between her parents. She didn't have many friends that she felt close to growing up and felt distant from her family. Through a friend, she met an older man who began a relationship with her, though she was still underage. It was the first time she felt desired and accepted in her life and when she and her parents fought, she sought refuge in this older man. He encouraged her to stay distant from her family and brought her to get her hair and nails done to help her feel better. Then, he introduced her to his “bottom girl”, who taught her how to engage in commercial sex. Mara was never allowed to keep the money her trafficker made selling her body to strangers. She wasn't allowed to leave. She wasn't allowed to carry his child to term. Mara had no agency in her life and she felt trapped. She didn't feel she could go back to her family and didn't have anyone else to reach out to. Mara was arrested a number of times for prostitution, solicitation and pandering. Mara didn't choose to engage in any of these activities, but she was forced to bear the burden of their consequences. Mara did the challenging work of rebuilding her relationships with her family and the internal work of moving forward from her trauma. Clearing her record meant the state finally recognized that she was a victim, which was the final puzzle piece for moving forward with her fresh start.
We’re awarding Mara with the FTT Thriver Award for the dedicated work she put into clearing her record and wish her continued success on her journey to freedom.
Pro Bono Advocate for Justice Award: Gabrielle Hanna
“Gabby Hanna volunteered to work on a vacatur case as a junior associate, joining in meetings and working to draft the client’s story. Her calm, steady presence and gentle, empathetic disposition were a constant in every client conversation – no matter how difficult the conversations or how many of the client’s children joined us while we talked. Gabby cared deeply. When she transferred from Cooley’s San Diego office to Seattle to be closer to family during the pandemic, she wanted to continue working on the vacatur case long-distance and joined meetings virtually, even when that meant waiting on hold for an extended time while we waited for the client to show. Gabby’s contributions to her client live on, as does her memory in our hearts.”
– Naomi May, Cooley Special Counsel, on her work with Gabby
Free to Thrive has a deep admiration for Gabby’s commitment to seeking justice for survivors and we are honored to posthumously commemorate her accomplishments and passion with the FTT Pro Bono Advocate for Justice Award.
Please tap the following link for a May 31st Des Moines Register article: “Pieper Lewis Gets 20-Year Sentence, But Then is Placed on Probation Again.” written by Philip Jones who has been covering the case since the June 1st, 2020 arrest of trafficking victim, Pieper Lewis. The NAHT joined Shared Hope International in the following media release titled, “Protecting not Punishing Sex Trafficking Survivors” which gives our position on justice for victims of human trafficking.
Adolescent girls face a rising rate of sexual violence and sex trafficking, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there is also a parallel crisis that’s not spelled out: Many of the young survivors are punished as if they were criminals.
This is known as the “abuse-to-prison pipeline.” Girls who are sexually abused and sex trafficked are often pushed into the legal system and charged with offenses that can trigger a cascade of consequences: a criminal record that can haunt a person for years; confinement in facilities that are unsafe; and long-term sentences that can keep them imprisoned for decades, even for life. For girls of color, the risk of entering the criminal justice system is far higher than for white girls.
Examples of the pipeline are all too common. It happens when girls escape a violent home, but then are charged as runaways. It happens when girls report sexual abuse to police but are charged with false reporting. It happens when girls fight back against traffickers and adult rapists in self-defense and then are charged with serious offenses. And it happens when children who are sex-trafficked are arrested on suspicion of prostitution or charged as traffickers themselves.
iEmpathize is excited to announce a new matching grant program to benefit The First Responder Training Program! This will address human trafficking specifically from the unique perspective of a firefighter, EMT, paramedic, and 911 dispatcher.
Thanks to the generous donation of Women World Changers, the matching grant will match every dollar donated to iEmpathize’s First Responder Human Trafficking Education Program, up to $5,000. This means that every dollar donated will be doubled, effectively doubling the impact of each contribution.
We are thrilled to have the support of Women World Changers. To expand our program and reach more people with the vital information they need to recognize and combat human trafficking in their communities. Imagine the impact we could make with almost 1.5 million first responders on the job in the US today.
2022 was a year of transformation for Free to Thrive as an organization. We decided to focus our legal services where we have the greatest expertise and where there is the most need – criminal record clearing for survivors of human trafficking. Among sex trafficking survivors, 90% have criminal records from their exploitation. These criminal records prevent survivors from getting jobs, housing, financial assistance and going back to school – trapping them in a life of exploitation. Since inception, FTT has cleared 236 criminal records entries for 32 survivors in 12 counties around the state of California. This work is truly life changing for our clients and their families.
Through our legal services over the past six years, we have seen firsthand the limitations in California laws and the challenges criminalized survivors face in our legal system. To date, we have helped pass three new laws that improve and expand the laws impacting survivors in powerful ways. These laws only work if system stakeholders are educated on them, so we’ve engaged in extensive training to help implement these new laws and transform the legal system for survivors. In 2022, we reached 1,402 people through our training and educational programs.
I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everyone who made our work possible – our staff, board, donors, pro bono attorneys, volunteers, community partners and most importantly, the survivors we serve. As you read through our 2022 Impact Report, know that we truly could not have accomplished all of this without each and every one of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Free to Thrive worked with an amazing client, Mara*, for over a year to clear her criminal record. Mara was trafficked by a predator who positioned himself as her older boyfriend while she was still a teenager. He encouraged her estrangement from her family, then exploited her for years, leaving her with a criminal record across 10 counties for crimes he was responsible for. After that conviction, Mara was able to get away from him and she rebuilt her entire life. She got her GED, went to college and is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in a helping profession. She has transformed her trauma into a deep personal commitment to serving others, especially children who are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation like she was. Although Mara is overqualified to work in her field, her criminal record has prevented her from getting hired. The Free to Thrive team worked to clear Mara’s entire criminal record. Mara is now free from the burden of a criminal history and can pursue her dream career.
Here’s What Mara Shared About Working with Free to Thrive:
“I am so grateful to have been connected with Free to Thrive, and feel so lucky to have worked closely with Allison. Allison made me feel comfortable and safe from the start. Her care and compassion was genuine, and I felt that. She is truly traum-informed, and consistently gave me space to take a moment and breathe, validated me and empowered me through the entire process. She was careful and considerate of every detail, every step of the way. She prepared me, explained the process to me and I felt fully supported. This has been one of the most powerful experiences of my life, with an outcome that for the past 15 years had felt unreachable. I became used to opportunities being denied and the inability to be free of the criminalization that followed me for almost half of my life. I am so honored to have been represented by Allison and Free to Thrive. I feel as though I have reclaimed a huge part of my life. Thank you from the deepest place in my heart for this work you all are doing and thank you for the priceless impact you have made on life.”
Here are Allison’s Reflections On Working with Mara:
“Mara was one of my first clients at Free to Thrive, and every aspect of working with her affirmed my decision to practice in post-conviction relief and reminded me why I went to law school in the first place. She is an incredible person who has been through some of the most traumatic experiences any individual can face – and yet she emerged from those hardships ready to build a beautiful life for herself and her family, which she has done through sheer determination. I was honored to earn her trust and to walk alongside her to get the state of California to set the record straight, acknowledging that she was a victim of crime and should never have been prosecuted. It is only a small portion of the justice she deserves that she is now released from her past criminalization and hireable in her field. And her profession is lucky to have her – she will undoubtedly change many lives in the course of her career.”
Allison Gill Sanford, Staff Attorney & Equal Justice Works Fellow at Free to Thrive
*name changed to protect client confidentiality
During the month of April, we recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM) and the importance of communities working together to help families thrive and prevent child maltreatment. Throughout the year, communities are encouraged to increase awareness about child and family well-being and work together to implement effective strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect. At 1736 Family Crisis Center, we strive to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Along with safe shelter and supportive services, we encourage families who have faced hardships to heal and to put an end to the cycle of child abuse.
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual violence can be prevented. Even though harmful and inequitable histories and systems exist that normalize and condone sexual violence, we can make a change. Many people are working to erase the silence and shame that keep sexual violence hidden and are working in their communities to create positive social norms and policies that promote equity and safety. We can all help prevent sexual violence by modeling and promoting healthy and positive relationships that are based on respect, safety, and equality. Ways you can make a change:
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Our mission is to equip adults to empower youth to eradicate exploitation. We identify areas where individuals often unknowingly intersect with exploitation, and we empower people within those intersections through education, prevention, advocacy, and intervention.
Looking to get involved? Here are a few ideas:
We have many outreach programs focused on eradicating the issue of child exploitation. Visit www.iempathize.org to learn more, and keep an eye out for future newsletters that will highlight the many intersections in which we engage.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Wayne Brady, host of TV's Let's Make A Deal!, talked about Human Trafficking and The Signal live on air during his January 18 show..
January is National Sex Trafficking Awareness Month in the United States.
In honor of the magnitude of children and families who are harmed by the sex trafficking industry each year, DA Summer Stephan and organization One Safe Place hosted “Human Trafficking 101”, a seminar to educate parents on the signs of sex trafficking.
KUSI’s Rafer Weigel went live at the seminar to speak with DA Summer Stephan about the epidemic proportions of sex trafficking that occur in San Diego County.