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Community Foundation Awards $50,000 in Spark Grants to address Human Trafficking

Allentown, Pa., October 11, 2017— The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) announced the recipients of $50,000 in Spark Grants for human trafficking programs. The announcement came at the Foundation’s program, “Hidden Crisis: Human Trafficking in our Community,” on October 11, at the Third Street Alliance in Easton, Pa.

The program was presented by The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) in partnership with United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley Women United and featured Shea Rhodes, Esq., Director of The Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and Cat Rojas, a survivor of human trafficking and a leader in the community.

Also speaking were Bernie Story, President and CEO of the Community Foundation, Marilee Falco, president of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley Women United, and Michael Wilson, director of communications, LVCF.

(View Shea Rhodes PowerPoint presentation PDF).

The program is the fifth in the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Spark Grant celebration. After the keynote presentation, Bernie J. Story awarded a total of $50,000 in grants to four organizations addressing human trafficking in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Before announcing the grants, Story said, “we congratulate all four finalists for their creativity, their collaboration, their engagement, their sparks. You have truly ignited awareness of your organizations and this issue, and we are proud to have you as our partners.”

  • KidsPeace was awarded $5,000 for its Enhanced Clinical Trauma and Life Skills Program for female adolescent victims of trafficking and trauma. The program addresses the mental health needs of victims of commercial sex exploitation and provides both trauma-informed care and the development of life skills.
  • Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley was awarded $12,500 for the 2018 Lehigh Valley Human Trafficking Conference:  Hiding in Plain Sight, which would be the first conference that brings together multiple disciplines from across the entire Lehigh Valley to address, identify and prevent human trafficking crimes.
  • Valley Against Sex Trafficking was awarded $12,500 for its VAST Survivor Community Center, a survivor-driven idea with the purpose to both house VAST headquarters and provide community-based, peer-led support to survivors of human trafficking. 
  • Truth for Women, Inc. was awarded $20,000 for its Truth Home Program, which offers a safe place family setting for women, in an intensive therapeutic environment. The program deals with the serious issues survivors of sex trafficking face in a holistic way, focusing on the entire person—body, soul, and spirit. The home offers the opportunity for an individualized recovery plan through mentoring, counseling, coaching, life skills, education, family therapy, and spiritual encouragement.

Human trafficking is the fifth of six issues the Community Foundation is addressing during its anniversary year by providing funds to local nonprofit organizations.  The Community Foundation will issue grants totaling $300,000 during 2017. The issues include: mental and behavioral health, cultural enrichment, food and housing, environment and sustainability, human trafficking, and veterans affairs.

See the Morning Call article:
Program raises awareness on human trafficking in the Lehigh Valley; grants awarded to local groups

Truth for Women, Inc. with Bernie Story, LVCF

Truth for Women, Inc with Bernie Story

Valley Against Sex Trafficing (VAST) wtih Bernie Story

Valley Against Sex Trafficing (VAST) wtih Bernie Story

Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley with Bernie Story

Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley with Bernie Story

Kidspeace with Bernie Story

Kidspeace with Bernie Story

See the photo gallery from “Hidden Crisis: Human Trafficking in our Community” program and reception

LVCF Human Trafficking Spark Grant Event

About the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

For five decades, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation has helped donors with their charitable contributions with a simple, powerful, and highly personalized approach. LVCF is a philanthropic hub for the Lehigh Valley—who know and navigate the landscape of the Lehigh Valley’s community needs to connect people who care to causes that matter.

With a diverse and respected Board of Governors, the Community Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Foundation is cause-neutral and supports all areas of community needs in in the Lehigh Valley and beyond in compliance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. To learn more, visit: