Empowering Youth to End Exploitation/Trafficking
Brave Global seeks to expand its services for vulnerable, systems-involved and foster youth in Los Angeles who are at risk for exploitation and trafficking by providing programming and resources that uplift, connect and educate via our Brave Empowerment Conference, "Brave Circles" small groups (on topics such as mental health, boundaries and healthy relationships), and relaunching the Brave Leadership Academy (which provides leadership and skills development via workshops and mentoring).
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
In 12/2022 LA County reported 27,380 children in foster care, most of whom are ages 5-13 (42%) and non-white (89%). Those most at-risk of being exploited are transitional age youth approaching 18. Less than 10% of child traffic victims are kidnapped - the majority are coaxed by traffickers who pose as a sympathetic ear. Brave sees itself as a catalyst in launching a movement among communities to step in and provide the support, resources and skills needed to fend off such advances. We've had youth reach out to us after attending our events, asking for additional support and letting us know the impact we had on their life. One youth recently shared that after attending a Brave Circle she realized she was in a toxic relationship and was being verbally abused. She was sad, but felt confident that ending the relationship was for the best; that she deserved love, not abuse. Stories like these give us hope that we are on the right path to ending exploitation and restoring the hope for youth.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Brave seeks to expand its services into South-Central Los Angeles by hosting a Brave Empowerment Conference and additional programming such as Brave Circles. Empowerment Conferences are in-person opportunities for youth to be inspired by motivational speakers (many of whom were foster youth and/or are sexual abuse survivors), higher education resources, opportunities for scholarships, entertaining activities, food and giveaways. The events bring together at-risk and foster youth to reinforce Brave's 3 Pillars: 1) Equality and Dignity, "We see you. You matter." 2) Hope and Empowerment, "We believe in you. You can do it." And 3) Inclusion and Mutuality, "We are with you. You belong." An LA County Coordinator will support the expansion of programmatic oversight to the LA region, as well as the services initiated at the event. At the conference, each youth receives one of our key tools for success, an interactive Brave Journal, written by women who endured and overcame difficult circumstances such as foster care, sexual abuse, and the juvenile justice system. They focus on identity, self-worth, healthy relationships, boundaries, and mental health through reflection activities, exercises, and empowering affirmations. These journals are used in Brave Circles small group studies led by trained facilitators and counselors. Our three journals are currently being translated into Spanish to provide additional resources to Los Angeles' growing Spanish speaking communities.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Brave envisions LA County as a place where all youth know their worth, and the adults around them journey to fight for their future and freedom. Brave seeks to cast a spotlight into society's shadows, where young people who have become normalized to neglect and exploitation are now motivated and restored to take power over their own futures. This can only be done through a well-coordinated community of care. Brave works to align positive resources to help youth gain stability, self-esteem, and life skills to live independently (post foster care) and feel empowered to fend off negative influences. Brave seeks to rally these voices by expanding into South Los Angeles collaborating with parents, caregivers, teachers, service providers and local churches to give power back to the youth who have grown up with little say over their futures and empower them to be Brave for themselves and their communities.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Objectives to measure success will be: a) hire a part time Los Angeles County Coordinator; b) recruit 5 volunteers, 3 facilitators and 3 mentors to plan events and implement programming; c) one empowerment conference serving a total of 150+ girls; d) create interactive journals, resources, and content for Spanish-speaking young women; and e) survey results indicate 80% youth increase in knowledge and confidence. Brave measures its success with pre- and post-program surveys of youth to identify improvements in a variety of areas. On a qualitative scale, Brave also collects stories and quotes from youth and caregiver attendees to measure the impact on the lives of the youth served. A caregiver at a recent conference stated, "It was our pleasure being at the Brave event. That is a memory all the ladies and I will have for a lifetime. The girls that were guests were very grateful and surprised at how special they were treated. You did an amazing job!!! You blessed those young ladies."
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 205
Indirect Impact: 1,400