At a time when so much of our society is divided, 2017 has reinforced for me how dignity is universally central to the human experience. On a recent trip to the Middle East, I spent time speaking with migrants in a labor camp and was profoundly affected by the stark reality of their circumstance. They deserve freedom just as victims of trafficking in Texas do.
To that end, my family has served and volunteered with Allies for over five years. I began serving as board chair a year ago because I believe that dignity and generosity are two of the most powerful values around which to organize and animate our lives. And victims deserve more from us.
On behalf of the team and board at Allies Against Slavery, thank you for making the last 7 years of our work possible. Your support and advocacy have been a fundamental part of our story. I want to express deep gratitude for every hour you invested, every email of encouragement and advice you sent, and every dollar you contributed.
Most importantly, I want you to know that your support has made a lifelong impact on countless survivors of human trafficking and exploitation. To witness and be part of helping trafficking survivors reconnect with their inherent worth is a humbling and life-giving experience. I believe you have invested and given well, and through your gifts you have resurrected hope and worth in individuals who did not feel seen or believe others truly cared about them.
2017 has seen the culmination of years of planning and work. I believe it was the most impactful year of our existence. In my opinion, the history of Allies has three distinct seasons. The first was grassroots pioneering, working closely with the community while we built trust and strengthened partnerships with a coalition of 65 frontline organizations. The second season involved working in the trenches alongside our frontline partners to prevent trafficking and care for survivors. This season also included partnering with the University of Texas to publish Human Trafficking By the Numbers: the Initial Benchmark of Prevalence & Economic Impact For Texas. The groundbreaking research, issued in January 2017, was funded by the Governor's Office and was the first to confirm the extent of the problem in Texas. It has served to accelerate several individual and systemic changes needed to end contemporary slavery.
Allies is now entering a third season using all we’ve learned to design and build high-impact, scalable tools and targeted training for frontline stakeholders to identify and help more victims of trafficking. We’ve empowered partners to achieve tremendous results this year, and they’ve reported without exception that our tools and training have been determinate in their ability to adequately serve victims. For instance:
- Partners using our online screening tool reported (often, for the first time) a material increase in identification rates of sex trafficking victims and survivors.
- After deploying our tool and training, partners described an increased ability to understand the true need and design improved services.
- Partners used our tool to easily collect and report data quickly, improving outcomes related to tracking and increasing grant funding to serve more survivors.
- One of our partners was even able to use data collected through our tool to prosecute a trafficker.
We now have a tremendous opportunity to protect the freedom and dignity of even more people as we scale up our tools and training in 2018. This work needs you, and I want to invite you to be a part of our mission and impact in the year ahead. We believe that there will come a day when Slave-Free Cities are a reality and we look forward to working toward that vision together.
If you have not supported Allies before, I ask that you consider donating as 2017 comes to an end. To our current and past donors, I invite you to consider making a year-end gift in addition to your regular giving. Our board has all done the same this year and will continue to do so in 2018.
I am also excited to announce that Allies now has the capacity to process non-cash gifts such as stocks, real estate and business interests. Please reach out to John Nehme, our CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org or Torey Tipton, our Director of Strategic Partnerships at email@example.com to discuss these options if you are interested.
With hope and gratitude,
Kyle McDaniel, Board Chair
Allies Against Slavery