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April 30, 2014

Winners Announced for the Partnership For Freedom’s “Reimagine: Opportunity” Innovation Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Partnership for Freedom (PFF), a public-private partnership led by Humanity United, U.S. government agencies and private donors to spur innovative solutions to confront the difficulties faced by survivors of modern-day slavery, today announced the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Freedom Clinic and the Safe Shelter Collaborative as the winners of its first innovation challenge, Reimagine: Opportunity. The challenge sought proposals for new ideas, partnerships and fresh approaches to dramatically improve services and support for human trafficking survivors.

The winners will receive a total of $1.77 million in funding to begin piloting their solutions. The two winning projects will strengthen critical services for human trafficking survivors in their local communities while generating new information that can be used to develop effective approaches to combating modern slavery. Grants for the PFF winners are funded entirely by private donors, including Humanity United, Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.

The MGH Freedom Clinic, a project of the MGH Human Trafficking Initiative from the Department of Emergency Medicine’s Division of Global Health & Human Rights, will receive $600,000 to establish a pioneering model of comprehensive primary and preventative health care services for trafficking survivors. Massachusetts General Hospital, the oldest and largest of the Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals, will provide best-in-class, trauma-informed care to survivors. Lessons learned will be shared with healthcare providers across the nation to inform new policies and protocols that will improve the ability of our health care system to identify and assist trafficking survivors.

The Safe Shelter Collaborative will receive $1.17 million to dramatically increase access to appropriate, supportive shelters for survivors of human trafficking. A collaboration between Polaris Project, New Jersey Department of Children and Families, and Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup Global, this project uses technology to locate and provide immediate shelter services for survivors and will increase the amount of shelter available by broadening the base of organizations who can support trafficking survivors.

“These two projects represent creative and bold solutions that will ultimately change the way survivors access the support they need – not only in their local communities, but across the country,” said Catherine Chen, director of investments at Humanity United, the foundation leading the initiative. “We built this challenge with the belief that human trafficking survivors deserve more, and we are thrilled to support the MGH Freedom Clinic and the Safe Shelter Collaborative in their quest to dramatically improve services for these survivors.”

“We need our health care system to contribute positively to the well-being and healing of trafficking survivors, by providing comprehensive trauma-sensitive, culturally-appropriate and survivor-informed care. Our project will develop a better understanding of the specific health outcomes and health needs of trafficking survivors, and develop best-evidence screening and patient care practices that can be widely disseminated throughout the country,” said Wendy Macias Konstantopoulos, MD, MPH, and Roy Ahn, ScD, leaders of the MGH Freedom Clinic.

“The lack of available shelter for human trafficking survivors is appalling. We are glad to be working with Polaris Project to develop a comprehensive system to change that,” said Marnie Webb, CEO of Caravan Studios.

“The survivors we serve have experienced ongoing hardship when trying to secure a safe place to stay after they exit their trafficking situations. Polaris Project is honored to be part of a collaboration that will increase appropriate shelter options in New Jersey for survivors of all forms of human trafficking, so that they can successfully rebuild lives of their choosing,” said Kate Keisel, Director of Polaris Project New Jersey.

The Reimagine: Opportunity challenge is the first of a series of three innovation challenges from the Partnership for Freedom to encourage organizations and communities across the country to develop new ideas to address human trafficking.  This first challenge sought creative ideas to address three critical issues faced by human trafficking survivors: sustainable housing; economic empowerment; and stronger social services. More than 160 entries from more than 260 community organizations, service providers, hospitals, corporations, universities, government agencies and community coalitions were submitted. The MGH Freedom Clinic and the Safe Shelter Collaborative were chosen from among 12 finalists to receive pilot funding.

The second challenge will explore the use of technology to improve data.  More information about the second challenge will be available later this year.

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