New York, U.S.A. — President Barack Obama announced a renewed commitment by the U.S. government to fight human trafficking through the Partnership for Freedom: Innovation Awards to Stop Human Trafficking, a public-private initiative led by Humanity United, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies, with support from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative. The Partnership for freedom will fund innovative solutions to improve care for survivors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“Trafficking survivors all too often face obstacles in accessing the comprehensive services they need to rebuild their lives,” Humanity United CEO Randy Newcomb said. “While federally-funded efforts to assist trafficking survivors have laid a strong foundation, there is still so much to be done. We can and must do better to find evidence-based models to effectively support survivors, and this initiative is a step in that direction.”

Humanity United, a foundation established by philanthropists Pierre and Pam Omidyar that is dedicated to building peace and advancing human freedom, is joining together with the federal government and with founding support from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative to establish a $6 million challenge award.

The challenge will call upon local communities to develop collaborative and comprehensive solutions to human trafficking survivor care that can be evaluated and expanded nationally and internationally through federal policies and programs. ”We are honored to support the public-private Partnership for Freedom,” said Dina Habib Powell, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. “By bringing together the corporate, governmental and nonprofit sectors to fund and scale practical solutions, we believe this initiative can have a real impact in the lives of trafficking survivors.”

Purpose of the commitment

Over the next few months, Humanity United will convene leading researchers, stakeholders, community organizations and government officials to help design and administer the award. The initial round of the award, to launch in 2013, will support the most innovative approaches in three areas:

  • sustainable housing and shelter solutions for all types of trafficking survivors
  • comprehensive care and case management for survivors who are minors
  • law enforcement engagement with survivors

The federal government, along with private donors such as the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, will commit financial resources and technical expertise to support the award, and will offer evaluation services to determine which approaches are proven to work. The goal will be to identify promising ideas and solutions at the local and community level that can later be nationally scaled and internationally replicated.

The Partnership for Freedom will consist of three levels of support aimed at innovation, evaluation and scale:

  • Community Conversation Grants will be awarded to encourage dialogue and activate local coordination.
  • Challenge Grants will be awarded to innovative community-level initiatives with the most promise of being scaled.
  • Scale will be achieved by pairing challenge grant winners with evaluators to identify which innovations can be expanded nationally and internationally through federal policies, practices and funding.

Community Conversation Grants

Recognizing that not all communities have existing expertise to design these innovations, Community Conversation Grants will enable a series of local stakeholder convenings to explore and establish a coordinated response to meet the needs of trafficking victims in communities around the country.

Challenge Grants

Challenge Grants will support solutions that address major challenges to survivor assistance. Paired with third-party evaluations, Challenge Grant recipients will help to build the body of knowledge for what works for survivors.

In addition to the Community Conversation Grants and Challenge Grants, the Partnership for Freedom will pair grant winners with academic researchers and program evaluators to build an evidence base of the most effective approaches. These projects will be coordinated with existing federal government efforts in order to fill key gaps in knowledge and practice, and to maximize the potential for these approaches to inform future policies and programs.

To ensure widespread commitment to this effort, an advisory board composed of a variety of stakeholders including prominent leaders in the field, advocates, senior law enforcement officials and survivors will be established to help inform the award criteria and selection process, and determine the award parameters.

Background of the proposal

Human trafficking has been identified as the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that human trafficking generates $32 billion annually. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), at any given moment more than 20 million people are trapped in slave-like conditions around the world. While Humanity United and many others continue to work on the root causes of this global phenomenon, this initiative will address much-needed efforts to help those who are survivors of human trafficking.

Image Courtesy of  pennstatelive