FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 21, 2019
Survivor Ventures announces a $900,000 grant award to support human trafficking survivors in Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk, VA: Survivor Ventures announced the award of a $900,000 federal grant, to be distributed over (3) years, from the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime to increase opportunities for economic empowerment for trafficking survivors in Hampton Roads. Only five awards were made throughout the country under the OVC Field Generated Innovations in Human Trafficking grant program to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving anti-trafficking field, and to best serve victims of human trafficking.
This grant will support Survivor Ventures’ (SV) Survivors to Entrepreneurs (S2E) program, which will provide pathways to meaningful employment for survivors of trafficking in Hampton Roads through subsidized wages, job coaching, entrepreneur mentorship, and specialized skills training. In recognition that economic empowerment begins with safe shelter, creative collaborations have been formulated to ensure participants have access to emergency shelter and rental assistance for long-term permanent housing.
“A grant of this size and stature truly puts Survivor Ventures on the map,” says Tiffany McGee, Executive Director and Founder of Survivor Ventures. “We piloted this program last year on individual donations and sheer willpower alone. Because so many people believed in a startup organization with a good idea we were able to demonstrate a scalable solution. And it's really so simple: small mom and pop business owners need employees but can't afford them. Survivors need livable wage jobs but can't get them. We put the two together by filling the wage gap. Small businesses grow, a vulnerable population becomes empowered...it's a no brainer.”
Partners for the grant include: Transitions Family Violence Services, S.L. Nusbaum Realty Company, Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters CSEC program, Regent University Law School, Southeast Virginia Homeless Coalition, the Retail Alliance and small businesses throughout Hampton Roads, among others.
Survivor Ventures also recently acquired office space in the Percolator through a partnership with Bobby Wright. According to Wright, “We have no shortage of entrepreneurs at the Percolator, so it’s a target-rich environment for Tiffany and her team. With all of the on-site supportive services offered by Survivor Ventures, it’s a low-risk, high-benefit opportunity for our members to be an integral part of the counter-trafficking solution. Percolator is very excited to be supporting Survivors Ventures and most importantly, helping people in need”.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Virginia ranks 15th in the US for human trafficking cases reported by state. Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force reporting indicates that since 2016 the task force has investigated 276 human trafficking cases, resulting in 104 arrests and 193 victims identified. A key feature of supporting survivors in attaining long-term success is access to a reasonable and sustainable standard of living with opportunities for economic empowerment. Unfortunately, Virginia is one of only six states in the nation that has not enacted criminal record relief legislation for trafficking survivors. As a result, victims of human trafficking may have a heightened vulnerability to re-victimization as many lose or cannot gain employment or safe and affordable housing due to their past criminal convictions. Survivor Ventures aims to address this vulnerability through their programs set up to provide that safe, affordable shelter and gainful employment while development of their own business plan.
During its first year of operations, Survivor Ventures has:
Supported 10 human trafficking victims and their 15 dependent children
Provided 120 nights of crisis shelter
Provided 9 months of rental assistance (on average) for survivors
Provided 8 months of wage assistance (on average) for survivors
Partnered with 10 small businesses for trauma informed worksites