A Letter from the Board

I humbly invite you to take a few minutes to read this important letter. There are many demands this time of year, and I am grateful for your attention and deep care for Allies.

This is our 11th year in operation and our pursuit of freedom and dignity for all who are trafficked remains steadfast. On a personal note, this is my 8th year of service with Allies. I started as a volunteer, now serve as Board Chair, and it is a great honor to help steward this sacred calling.  

In the opening section of our 2020 year-end letter, I used the word “tumultuous” to describe the season of history we were living through. I recounted that the year was filled with hugs, tears, laughter, grief, challenges, victories, and countless stories of change. Now, one year later, the paradox that nothing has changed and everything has changed rings true. We collectively experienced pain and joy in 2021 that deepened our resolve and caused us to become more grounded. At the same time, the life-giving nature of our purpose, team, and Lighthouse platform flourished in ways we could not have anticipated. It was a breath-taking year filled with breath-taking impact. As the kids these days say, #gratitude.

This year we entered a new season of growth and change at Allies, building upon the trajectory of the previous ten years. Our origins in educating the community, building partnerships, and researching the scope of the problem revealed that far more people than we imagined were exploited and far fewer than we hoped were identified and helped. That revelation set the stage for our work today: using data to free people from human trafficking.    

After more than two years of prototyping and testing, we officially launched the first version of Lighthouse in 2019. Lighthouse is our innovative software solution that helps field professionals identify victims and coordinate quality care, enabling freedom and fostering dignity for survivors. We made significant financial, technical, legal, and technological investments to our platform, activated by partnerships with Dropbox and the Office of the Texas Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT). The CSTT’s partnership enabled us to expand Lighthouse as a statewide platform to aggregate data and visualize trends in human trafficking. This expansion was, and still is, a game-changer.

In 2020, we experienced the principle that real progress without change is simply unrealistic. The effects of COVID-19 meant that professionals everywhere needed ways to collaborate virtually. Lighthouse was built for just that, enabling those serving vulnerable populations to screen for sex trafficking and manage that information digitally. Our network of Lighthouse partners grew quickly and it was the beginning of scale.

In 2021, as we entered the next phase of Allies’ growth and forged new data partnerships, scale remained the theme. These numbers illustrate that theme:  

  • We now have 130 licensed Lighthouse partners representing over 1,500 users accessing the platform.
  • We aggregate data from 289 organizations across Texas that identify victims, deliver services, and track program and survivor outcomes.
  • We analyze and visualize data from over 58,000 sex trafficking screenings, identifying more than 7,000 (~12%) screenings of youth with a “clear concern” score – the highest risk for sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
  • We obtained a unique set of law enforcement data comprised of 175,657 cases reported to the Texas Department of Protective Services, 127 federal cases, and 28,688 inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
  • We are analyzing more than 39,000 online sex ads to help us understand more about the individuals who pay for sex and drive the demand for sex trafficking.

In addition to these numbers, another exciting way our work has grown in 2021 is through increased advocacy during the 87th Texas Legislative session. The complex nature of human trafficking and the previous lack of substantial aggregate data has made effective anti-trafficking policymaking challenging at times.  Given the aggregate data now available in Lighthouse, we were able to make evidence-based recommendations to key partners and policymakers. Two of the bills we supported were successfully signed into law.

All the measures, data, and numbers aside, I am so proud of the Allies team. Their resiliency and commitment to the mission inspires me. But our team can’t do what they do without your support. For those of you who have already given, you have my deepest thanks. For those of you who have not yet, please consider making a year-end gift or joining our Lightkeepers Collective as a monthly donor. The work of protecting freedom and dignity needs you. Additionally, we are thrilled that our friends at Banneker Partners are very generously matching all donations up to $50,000 that are made before December 31 so if you give now, your gift makes twice the impact.

2022 is shaping up to be an extraordinary year as Allies prepares to grow beyond Texas and we are grateful for your partnership. You help shine light in the darkness for those who do not yet have freedom and for whom dignity is a foreign concept.  

As a reminder, we have the capacity to process non-cash gifts such as stocks, real estate, and business interests. Please reach out to John Nehme, our CEO at john@alliesagainstslavery.org or Torey Tipton, our Managing Director at torey@alliesagainstslavery.org to discuss these options if you are interested.  

For freedom,

Kyle McDaniel
Board Chair