Innovation Competition Seeks New Ideas to Support Human Trafficking Survivors in the United States 

Los Angeles, California – Dec. 16, 2013 – Los Angeles-based organization, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) has been named a finalist in the Reimagine: Opportunity, a national competition seeking innovative ideas to improve the lives of survivors of modern-day slavery in the United States.

Reimagine: Opportunity is sponsored by the Partnership for Freedom, a public-private partnership led by Humanity United, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.

CAST’s initiative, The Networked Survivor, is a plan for creating powerful professional and social networks resulting in career opportunities for survivors of human trafficking in some of Los Angeles’ largest industries: tourism, hospitality, entertainment, beauty and health.  The Networked Survivor is a training, social and professional networking system designed to transform the life trajectory of survivors and increase survivor access to quality economic opportunity. 

Today, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. are currently living in some type of modern-day slavery, including commercial sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude and bonded labor.  Although efforts to combat this crime have increased in recent years, care and recovery support for survivors remains inadequate. The Partnership for Freedom’s challenge is looking for creative, sustainable ways to address three critical issues faced by human trafficking survivors: sustainable housing, economic empowerment and social services.

“Survivors of human trafficking are some of the most entrepreneurial and hard-working people I know.  However, because of a variety of complex factors, they are often held back from moving forward in their education and career goals.  The Networked Survivor is an economic empowerment model that will help survivors develop the robust networks necessary for job advancement and true self-sustainability,” says Kay Buck, CAST’s CEO and Executive Director.

CAST’s idea was selected from among more than 160 submissions representing 260 applying organizations from around the country. In January, CAST will join 12 other finalists at an Innovation Workshop in Washington, DC, where they will be coached by specialists in technology, social enterprise, communications and media.  In the spring, the winners will be announced, with prize grants totaling $1.8 million.

With survivors as key advisors, CAST has joined forces  with Hospitality Training Academy (the training arm of UNITE HERE Union in Los Angeles’ high-growth tourism and hospitality industry),  Paul Mitchell Schools and UEvolution to provide quality training and sustainable career opportunities that lead to economic empowerment.  CAST welcomes inquiries from other socially-minded businesses that want to help survivors find fulfilling work and reach their goals. 

About CAST

For over 15 years, CAST has championed a comprehensive, survivor-centered approach to combatting human trafficking.  CAST provides trafficking survivors with a continuum of life-transforming services:  a 24-hour emergency response system; legal services; social services; and a survivor leadership program. Through this intensive work in the trenches, CAST holds a unique perspective that has catalyzed innovative partnerships.  With these strategic relationships in place, CAST is boldly stepping into its next era as an agent of shared leadership and collective impact with new players to unveil The Networked Survivor, a plan for creating powerful career paths and networks for survivors of human trafficking. 

About Partnership for Freedom

The Partnership for Freedom is a public-private partnership that was first announced by President Obama during his landmark speech on human trafficking in September 2012.

It is led by Humanity United, a foundation dedicated to building peace and advancing human freedom, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.

About Humanity United

Humanity United is a U.S.-based foundation dedicated to building peace and advancing human freedom. At home and in the corners of the globe where these ideals are challenged most, we lead and support efforts to lift up the voices and will of people, ensure good governance and the rule of law, engage markets and business as a force for change, and encourage the exploration of promising ideas and innovations to end conflict and slavery—all with the belief that everyone has the right to a life that is peaceful and free. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter (@HumanityUnited) and Facebook. Humanity United is part of the Omidyar Group: