This story has been updated to reflect the new partnership between the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute and the Hue Jackson Foundation.
Survivors, researchers and advocates around the world are coming together virtually next week for the 17th Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference at The University of Toledo.
The event has welcomed people from 49 states and 40 countries since it began in 2004 to advance collaborative research, advocacy and program development.
This year the conference will be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sept. 23-25 on Zoom and feature more than 100 speakers and 70 breakout sessions.
“We are in a unique position this year with hosting our conference virtually as we will be able to reach thousands of more individuals from all over the world who would not have had the opportunity to travel to attend our conference,” Dr. Celia Williamson, Distinguished University Professor and director of the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, said. “Our top priority is to keep everyone safe while still fulfilling our mission of uniting the global community to learn, connect and collaborate to combat human trafficking and promote social justice.”
New this year, the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute and the Hue Jackson Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Ohio, are partnering together to collaborate on the Stranger 2 Changers program, which will be free for students to participate in remotely through their schools.
The prevention program is part of Hue Jackson Foundation’s T.E.A.C.H. Initiative that provides a platform for students in schools to directly and indirectly interact with “Changers” from a variety of professional and non-professional platforms who can assist them to gain insight, knowledge, education and support while also giving them a sense of community as they navigate many of life’s challenges that may put them at greater risk for human trafficking.
“We are excited about our partnership with The University of Toledo,” said Hue Jackson, founder of the Hue Jackson Foundation. “Sharing our common goals to educate others in an effort to have a positive impact on society makes this a partnership that we hope inspires others across the country.”
In the past year, the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute launched the F.R.E.E. Program, which provides scholarships and support for survivors of human trafficking from across the country as they pursue their education goals.
The F.R.E.E. Program, which has 55 human trafficking survivors currently enrolled, is the focus of one of the sessions. Hear success stories from women who earned certifications in yoga and phlebotomy, as well as a master’s degree in social work at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23.
“F.R.E.E. represents a survivor’s potential to become a thriver by achieving economic and psychological freedom and empowerment,” LaDonna Knabbs, coordinator of the F.R.E.E. Program in the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, said. “It stands for Foundation, Readiness, Education and Employment. By achieving a degree or certification, survivors obtain livable employment.”
Other presentations include:
For a full schedule of presentations or to register, visit the conference website.