This month, we pause in recognition of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a topic that hits all too close to home in San Diego.

According to research from the University of San Diego, the size of the human trafficking industry in our region is estimated at $810 million, and each year as many as 8,000 residents are victims of this pervasive industry.

The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as “modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.”

In response, leaders across every sector in the region, from law enforcement and school administrators, to faith groups and philanthropists, have been working together to save lives and change the devastating statistics around the issue.

Philanthropy in Action

Last year, the San Diego Women’s Foundation, a supporting organization of The San Diego Foundation, set out to address this urgent need in our community by dedicating its annual grant cycle to human trafficking.

With generous support from its members, the San Diego Women’s Foundation granted a historic $243,000 in new grant funding to five nonprofits working to combat human trafficking in San Diego County. The announcement was the culmination of a thorough and thoughtful grants process that helped bring more charitable dollars to local prevention programs and marked a significant moment for impact-driven philanthropy in San Diego. It also brought more awareness to the long-term needs of organizations combatting trafficking within our communities.

While five organizations received funding through the grant cycle, there were many more that presented impactful programs. That’s why The San Diego Foundation joined with the San Diego Women’s Foundation to provide additional support for one of the other applicants – Alabaster Jar Project.

Founded in 2013, the Alabaster Jar Project empowers survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation through housing, therapy and life skills.

The $56,000 grant from The San Diego Foundation will help fund an additional staff, who will be able serve an additional 80 women and their children in 2020.

As Susan Johnson, Director of Alabaster Jar Project, explained, “The San Diego District Attorney’s office and other agencies working to assist survivors of human trafficking report that long-term housing and employment continue to be key barriers to survivors becoming self- sufficient. Alabaster Jar Project works to provide a safe environment for survivors to achieve physical, mental and emotional healing and experience greater levels of well-being and independence.” 

Over 50 percent of staff at Alabaster Jar Project are survivors themselves and add to the quality of client care by empowering survivors who are in turn empowering their peers.

Addressing Our Most Pressing Challenges

While more work is still to be done, The San Diego Foundation is proud to join forces with the San Diego Women’s Foundation and other organizations addressing our region’s most pressing challenges, such a human trafficking.

Learn more about how you can support these efforts or fund one of the impactful programs at The San Diego Foundation.

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