The New York City-based NoVo Foundation has announced a three-year, $10 million commitment in support of programs in the United States aimed at reducing and preventing commercial sexual exploitation.
The announcement of the Life Story Grants initiative follows the launch last year of Life Story: Moments of Change, an online platform designed to elevate the voices of survivors of sexual exploitation whose paths to the sex trade involved poverty, discrimination, intergenerational violence and trauma, and/or harm in school, foster care, housing, or the healthcare and criminal justice systems. The new program will focus on those who are disproportionately affected by commercial sexual exploitation but are largely invisible — including Native American and other girls and women of color, immigrants, and trans women — as well as on the critical life moments when "system interactions could have gone a different way and led to a different life trajectory."
With the goal of addressing systemic failures at those critical moments and closing "on-ramps" to sexual exploitation, the program will support system-focused strategies in six areas — housing, medical needs, law enforcement, trauma and mental health, immigration, and systems impacting youth.
"System failures call for systems-based solutions to create lasting change — and that's where we see an untapped opportunity for anyone who wants to improve the lives of marginalized girls and women," said NoVo Foundation executive director Pamela Shifman. "Practitioners in critical systems — like teachers, social workers, bus drivers, police officers, emergency room doctors, and immigration officials — come into contact with people in sexual exploitation every day. By offering compassion, resources, and opportunity, these practitioners can close an on-ramp to exploitation — or open an exit ramp."
"The core mission of the NoVo Foundation is to foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation — including sexual exploitation — to one of collaboration and partnership," said NoVo Foundation co-founders Jennifer and Peter Buffett. "The Life Story Grants are a critical step in achieving that mission and building a more just and balanced world."