Humanity United and NoVo Foundation Announce Three Winners of the Pathways to Freedom Challenge Supporting City Leadership and Innovation in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. – February 15, 2018 – The Partnership for Freedom today announced the three winners of its Pathways to Freedom challenge. Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis were selected to participate in a first-of-its-kind anti-trafficking challenge to develop citywide approaches to better prevent human trafficking and support survivors. Funding from the challenge will support a senior fellow’s salary in city government for two years and technical assistance to better address labor trafficking.

The Partnership for Freedom, created by Humanity United, is a public-private partnership dedicated to spurring innovation in the fight to end human trafficking. Pathways to Freedom, the Partnership’s third challenge, is led by Humanity United and the NoVo Foundation.

“Cities have a critical role to play in the fight against human trafficking and we are confident that the work of Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis will inspire and encourage local solutions in other communities across the country,” said Catherine Chen, director of investments for Humanity United. “We are excited to support our winning cities and together develop new ways to prevent and address both labor and sex trafficking and support survivors.”

Historically, most anti-trafficking work has focused on strengthening the criminal justice response. While law enforcement agencies play a critical role in the investigation of cases and prosecution of traffickers, this approach leaves gaps in the prevention of trafficking and the many services survivors need. This problem is even more urgent now, as increased threats of deportation and heightened anti-immigrant rhetoric may cause immigrant communities to become more vulnerable to trafficking and less likely to seek help from law enforcement, report their trafficker, or access services.

“Human trafficking is an issue that impacts our most vulnerable populations, like runaway and homeless youth, immigrants, and LGBT communities,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “In Chicago we are committed to tackling the root causes of human trafficking to better understand and address the social services needs of survivors.”

Despite growing awareness of human trafficking, gaps remain in preventing both labor and sex trafficking and supporting survivors to recover. Too often, public health, human services, labor enforcement, legal services, housing, immigration, and other systems fail to identify individuals at risk of trafficking and may not have services that adequately assist victims and survivors currently in their programs. As a result, trafficking survivors often cycle in and out of city systems without receiving the assistance they need.

“Every year, thousands of children, women and men fall prey to the insidious practice of human trafficking. Whether these victims are entrapped in or transported to Atlanta, we know that our city faces a human trafficking challenge disproportionate to its size,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “I am pleased to announce that I will appoint a Senior Fellow within my Administration to further the City’s efforts to combat and eliminate this horrific practice. The Pathways to Freedom grant will also enable Atlanta to better address labor trafficking, which has traditionally been under-reported, and its survivors under-served. I am confident that together, we can be the strength for the powerless and the hope of the victims.”

“This investment underscores our commitment to developing innovative strategies to better address labor trafficking – a crime that we know is underreported and wreaks havoc on our most vulnerable communities,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Each anti-trafficking fellow will report to the mayor or executive level staff and will work across multiple city agencies and with a range of community stakeholders to develop comprehensive approaches to both prevent trafficking and address unmet survivor needs. This could include new policies for the city, new practices for social service providers, additional funding and resources, and new relationships between the cities and communities impacted by trafficking, including survivors, anti-trafficking advocates, community organizations, employers, and service providers.

“Our hope is that all three of the challenge winners will demonstrate that the most effective and innovative work to end human trafficking is deeply grounded in the experience of survivors themselves, especially the most vulnerable, including survivors of color, Indigenous survivors, immigrant survivors, LGBTQ youth, people with disabilities, and those struggling with addiction,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation. “By more effectively meeting the needs of survivors, these cities will shine as a model of what’s possible for other communities across the country.”

Fellows’ work will be featured on the Pathways to Freedom digital platform at and shared with leaders in other cities. The Partnership for Freedom will also support grassroots and survivor-led efforts in each winning city.

In a testament to the growing political will in U.S. cities to lead the fight against trafficking in their communities, thirteen mayors from major cities across the nation submitted letters of support and competed for this critical opportunity. They included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, DC. The competition was open to U.S. cities in the 100 Resilient Cities network. 100 Resilient Cities-Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

Pathways to Freedom is the third and final innovation challenge issued by the Partnership for Freedom to spur innovative solutions to end modern slavery in the U.S. and around the world. The first challenge, “Reimagine: Opportunity” focused on spurring innovation in victim services. The second challenge, “Rethink Supply Chains” identified developers, designers, advocates, and innovators to submit concepts for technological solutions that identify and address labor trafficking in global supply chains for goods and services.

Learn more at or follow #PathwaystoFreedom on Facebook and Twitter. 

About Humanity United 

Humanity United is a foundation dedicated to bringing new approaches to global problems that have long been considered intractable. We build, lead, and support efforts to change the systems that contribute to problems like human trafficking, mass atrocities, and violent conflict. HU is part of The Omidyar Group, a diverse collection of organizations, each guided by its own approach, but united by a common desire to catalyze social impact.

Facebook: /humanityunited/
Twitter: @humanityunited 

About NoVo Foundation

NoVo Foundation is dedicated to building a more just and balanced world. Founded in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo has become one of the largest private foundations in the world to support initiatives focused explicitly on girls and women, including a dedicated focus on ending violence against girls and women and supporting adolescent girls. NoVo also works to advance social and emotional learning, support Indigenous communities and promote local living economies.

Facebook: /NoVoFoundation/
Twitter: @NoVoFoundation

White House Announces Pathways to Freedom, a new Partnership for Freedom challenge

At the President’s Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, the White House today announced the Partnership for Freedom (PFF)’s third challenge, Pathways to Freedom. It will officially launch in early 2017 and will challenge local communities to address practices, policies, and perceptions so that every survivor of trafficking receives the respect, support, and opportunities that they deserve. Sign up here to stay tuned for more information in 2017.

Pathways to Freedom follows on the heels of our first challenge, Reimagine: Opportunity, which supported innovation in victims services and the second challenge, Rethink Supply Chains, which mobilized the tech community to fight labor trafficking in global supply chains. 

The Partnership for Freedom, a multi-million dollar public-private partnership dedicated to spurring innovation in the fight against human trafficking, was first announced by President Obama in 2012. 

Humanity United, U.S. Government Agencies, and Private Donors Launch Competition to Combat Labor Trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 28, 2015 – Today, the Partnership for Freedom launched Rethink Supply Chains: The Tech Challenge to Fight Labor Trafficking, an innovation challenge that calls for technological solutions that identify and address labor trafficking in global supply chains for goods and services. The Challenge will award $500,000 in prizes and services.

The Partnership for Freedom is a public-private partnership that aims to spur innovative solutions to human trafficking challenges. The Partnership is led by Humanity United, a foundation dedicated to building peace and advancing human freedom, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of State, and the Department of Labor. Private efforts are supported by Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative, and the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund.

Around the world, tens of millions of people are estimated to be in modern slavery.  The ILO estimates that 14.2 million people are victims of forced labor in private economic activities, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work or manufacturing. Goods produced with forced labor, a form of modern slavery, often make their way into the global economy, and into our lives, through complex and opaque supply chains. The Rethink Supply Chains Challenge seeks new ideas, tools, and efforts that use technology to combat and prevent this problem in global supply chains.

“The scope of this issue is enormous,” said Randy Newcomb, President and CEO of Humanity United. “We need new actors, new skills, new data, new ideas and new energy to improve anti-trafficking efforts around the world.”

“Forced labor has no place in our global supply chains nor in the goods and services we buy every day. We look forward to the innovative ideas and designs we anticipate from this Challenge as we seek to eliminate human trafficking from the global marketplace,” said Ambassador Susan Coppedge of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Rethink Supply Chains encourages solvers to focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • Workers’ Voices: Tools that help workers to share information and foster community, access resources, and report labor violations to businesses, governments, NGOs, or each other in the most safe and secure ways possible.
  • Recruitment: Tools to improve the transparency and accountability of the labor recruitment process, encourage responsible practices for employers and recruiters, and empower workers to more safely navigate the recruitment process.
  • Traceability: Technologies that enable businesses, workers, governments, and NGOs to track, map, and/or share information on commodities, products, and labor conditions in supply chains at high risk of forced labor.

Initial submissions for Rethink Supply Chains will be accepted until December 13, 2015. Up to five teams or organizations will be selected to advance as finalists. Finalists will each be awarded a prize package of $20,000 in cash as well as supporting services, which include admission to a Finalist Accelerator, with an in-person Finalist Boot Camp and access to expert mentorship to further develop their concept. One grand-prize winner and one runner-up winner will be announced in April 2016 and awarded $250,000 and $50,000, respectively.

The Challenge is the second in a series of three competitions dedicated to spurring innovative solutions to end human trafficking, and follows the Reimagine: Opportunity challenge, which focused on solutions to support victims of human trafficking in the United States.

For Challenge rules and to submit a concept, visit:

Follow the Challenge:

About Humanity United

Established in 2005, 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, support, and collaborate with a broad network of efforts, ideas, and organizations that share our vision of a world free of conflict and injustice. Humanity United is part of the Omidyar Group, which represents the philanthropic, personal, and professional interests of Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Learn more at, @HumanityUnited and Humanity United is part of The Omidyar Group: