The Power of Partnership: Building Bridges to Create New Opportunities in the Fight to End Human Trafficking

Guest post by Hope Druckenmiller

At Engage Together, we believe that everyone is uniquely positioned to engage in the fight to end human trafficking. Each of us has skills, talents, abilities, and expertise to offer.   When we find ways to partner together with others who have their own set of unique skills and abilities to offer, we tap into the power to change things in ways that seemed impossible to do before.  But what does this look like on a practical level?

Partnership brings together separate entities with a common goal; this could be between a business and nonprofit, a church and a coalition, an individual and a community effort.  Meaningful partnership builds bridges to opportunities that would not exist otherwise. This month, we’d like to highlight a few examples of partnerships that have created new ways to fight human trafficking. We are grateful for the thousands of businesses, nonprofits, and organizations we have been privileged to partner with as we all work together to end human trafficking and protect the vulnerable.

Multi-sector Partnerships

Partnership can take shape in a multitude of different ways.  One of our favorite types, multi-sector partnerships, create opportunities for organizations from different sectors to expand their capabilities and think outside the box to tackle challenges together.

Randstad’s Hire Hope program is a shining example.  Hire Hope is a program, led by a global company in collaboration with community partners, for at-risk women that provides 35 weeks of career readiness training, paid apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and job placement opportunities. This award-winning program supports survivors of domestic violence, exploitation, and human trafficking. To learn more about how this program was created and how it works today to change lives, you can view this video interview between our Founder, Ashleigh Chapman, and Crystal Crowley, Senior Diversity and Hire Hope Manager. The interview begins at minute 4:50.

Another example is Engage Together’s partnership with Pomerol Partners, Qlik’s Corporate Responsibility Program, and Belmont University’s Data Collaborative.  Separately purposed as a nonprofit, university, and technology firms, we combined our expertise to build technologies that transform local community response to human trafficking.  This innovative project helps communities understand their current strengths, gaps, needs, and opportunities to unite across every sector in ways that will create maximum impact for victims, survivors, and those at-risk of trafficking. You can learn more in in this article from Active Intelligence magazine, and you can see this partnership in action in our latest project in Tennessee.

Collaborative Partnerships

The Freedom Business Alliance and National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance (NTSA) are two examples of collaborative partnerships. These two entities provide a community of like-minded and similarly purposed organizations to enhance and increase each member’s knowledge and resources to effectively address human trafficking and support survivors.  As a result, both alliances serve as a conduit to connect survivors of human trafficking (and the organizations that support them) with employment and residential opportunities that are well beyond the reach of any one organization.

The Freedom Business Alliance is made up of Freedom Businesses. These businesses employ women who are survivors of human trafficking or who may be at-risk of exploitation. With over 110 members in over 30 countries, they have collectively created and supported more than 2,000 Freedom Business jobs for survivors.

National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance is a community of service providers for survivors of human trafficking. They provide referrals to residential services for survivors, equip residential programs across the country with training resources, and provide accountability to ensure survivors receive the highest quality of care.

How Are You Uniquely Positioned?

Now that you have in mind some examples of partnerships, you may be wondering what it looks like for you to be uniquely positioned to partner with others in your community to make a difference. Here a few ways you can engage, right where you are.

Take time to learn how human trafficking happens in local communities. No community is immune to human trafficking, and trafficking happens differently depending on the community you are in.  Before you dive into action, get educated first.  A great place to start is Justice U’s free 1-hour Human Trafficking Awareness course.

Explore the possible ways to engage. Check out the My Role page on the Engage Together website to explore ideas and opportunities to make an impact depending on what hat or hats you wear in your community. Find out the ways in which what you are already doing, what you are passionate about, and the network you already have can be the starting place for making a difference.

Connect with your local community. There are likely numerous efforts in your community and state working already to address human trafficking and support at-risk populations. Find out how your community is responding by reaching out to your local law enforcement, task force, or coalition. Ask if they have a list of partners that offer services or programs in your area and start reaching out to them too.  You’ll learn a great deal about how trafficking is happening in your community, and you’ll discover many needs that you may be able to help with – or share with others so that they can help too.

As we round at this month of thanks-giving, we at Engage Together want to say a special thank you to our partners for contributing your time, talents, and passions that make our work and impact to end and prevent human trafficking possible. We are grateful for you!