Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI), the nonprofit that created and runs the Prevention Project program and other human trafficking prevention programming, celebrates its 10-year anniversary! RJI began as a local grassroots effort of all volunteers in Richmond, Virginia in 2009, and it has grown exponentially into a national and highly-acclaimed nonprofit. While celebrating its 10th year since founding, RJI also celebrates reaching its 10th state with the Prevention Project curriculum!
In addition to reaching new states with the Prevention Project program, RJI brings its In-Depth Training on human trafficking to the first audience outside of Virginia where the team presents at a statewide educators’ conference in Anchorage, Alaska!
The Prevention Project program is taught in the first corporate setting in a pioneer event with UPS Freight. Middle and high school kids of UPS employees are invited to come to work with their parents for a half-day educational event where they receive vital education on human trafficking.
RJI, Richmond Justice Initiative, the nonprofit which created and runs the Prevention Project™ program, was invited to the table last year alongside other industry experts to collaborate with the Virginia Department of Education on mandated guidelines for school support staff to recognize, prevent, and properly intervene in human tracking situations amongst the student body.
The official Guidelines for Training on the Prevention of Trafficking of Children document is made public, and RJI is among the first to offer a compliant training, equipping multiple local school systems immediately after the release. RJI is invited to the McCain Institute in Washington D.C. to participate in the National Roundtable on Safeguarding Children and Prevention Education. We, alongside federal and state agency stakeholders and fellow national experts, discuss the highlights, best practices, and challenges of prevention education programs on human trafficking to determine how best to protect our most vulnerable.
After piloting the middle school edition of the Prevention Project curriculum in all of Newport News Public Middle Schools, the curriculum is released for wider distribution and sale. This 2-lesson version is now available, while a 6-lesson version (2 separate lessons for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to be employed as students move through different grades) is piloted again in Newport News. For the very first time, a school system purchases a countywide Prevention Project license to cover their middle school and high school students!
AT&T faithfully continues to fund our efforts to reach high school youth, which helps us grow exponentially. A Prevention Project student bravely comes forward to reveal that she is a victim of human trafficking. We work with this student to develop her story into a video which is inserted into the curricula to reach other youth who may be at-risk or already victimized. Finally, a star-studded Smithfield High School classroom petitions their local school board to get more prevention education to their peers in the area, and they make it onto CNN’s Freedom Project.
The Prevention Project™ program touches down in its seventh state, the state of Maryland! This is the first time that the program has been taught in a college setting to students who are studying social work. One of the California classrooms from Eureka High School going through the Prevention Project earns its way to CNN.
Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI), the Richmond, Virginia-based nonprofit which runs Prevention Project, significantly employs its position as an industry expert and thought leader in the human trafficking community. RJI staff become highly demanded for in-depth training on human trafficking for youth workers and service providers, and are called for multiple sessions of related consultation. Most notably, RJI is invited to collaborate with the Virginia Department of Education to create mandated state guidelines on human trafficking training resources for counselors, nurses, and other school staff.
The RJI team celebrates reaching over 10,000 youth with prevention education, and this only represents the numbers that can be measured. We know full well according to our student surveys that most students share the prevention information with family and friends, so this number is much bigger in reality!
After collaborating with middle school experts, law enforcement, teachers, counselors, victim care, principals, and youth group leaders, the Prevention Project program is made into an age-appropriate version tailored to the middle school audience. The program is piloted in every 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classroom in Newport News Public Schools!
The Prevention Project curriculum expands into its 6th state, California, through the outstanding efforts of human trafficking survivor and advocate, Elle Snow who carefully chose this curriculum amongst many others to promote!
Hermitage High School teacher Colleen Savino receives the Lowell Milken Center Unsung Hero Award for making a positive and profound effect on history through the use of the Prevention Project curriculum in the classroom.
AT&T continues to show their undying support of this program and gives a generous $25,000 towards the Prevention Project program’s continuation as we celebrated the start of its fifth year in schools!
Heather Caleb, RJI core team member at the time (now staff member), receives the Bon Secours Richmond Health System Dedicated Service award! Heather not only serves every day through her compassionate care given to her patients but also works with RJI to help eradicate human trafficking.
Our Executive Director Jessica Willis speaks at a national conference- Shared Hope International conference in Washington D.C. on “The Ripple Effect: Preventing Teen Trafficking”. The conference gathered together over 700 anti-trafficking advocates from 30 states!
Our pilot teachers at Hermitage High School, Colleen Savino and Jeannine Chewning, are awarded the 2015 Robert H. Jackson Center National Award for Teaching Justice for their exemplary work with the Prevention Project curriculum. This prestigious award was created to recognize individuals who have made an outstanding contribution toward teaching the concept of justice in their classroom. Click here to read the full story: www.nbc12.com/story/30366985/hermitage-hs-teachers-honored-in-fight-against-human-trafficking
AT&T has provided $10,000 to continue supporting RJI! We are so thankful for their continued, foundational support!
The Prevention Project program is now in Arizona state!
The Prevention Project program has now grown into four states and twenty-eight classrooms in Virginia, Oregon, North Carolina, and Texas. Since its inception in 2012 over 5,000 students have gone through the program!
Prevention Project students in Virginia take part in advocating for the Kids Are Not For Sale Coalition, concluding with the passing of the first stand-alone Sex Trafficking Statute in Virginia.
The Freedom Keeper Campaign launches, providing supporters an opportunity to contribute on a monthly basis to the work of RJI’s Prevention Project! Freedom Keepers donate at least $1 per day ($30 per month) to make a difference in the lives of students around the country. Prevention Project students volunteer to take part in the photography campaign to promote this new initiative!
AT&T’s $10,000 donation communicates their continued support and dedication to the Prevention Project program’s cause.
An excerpt from a news article below:
The latest contribution from AT&T will allow RJI’s signature, award-winning Prevention Project® program to expand its prevention education resources and to continue to reach more schools around Virginia, and across the country! The Prevention Project team works with advocates and local school officials to get the curriculum in their schools. The Prevention Project is now in North Carolina, Texas, Oregon, and has furthered its reach to more schools in VA!
(Read full article here.)
AT&T supported the Prevention Project program through a donation of $10,000.
The Prevention Project emerges from a pilot program, to a full-fledged set of lesson plans and resources.
The Prevention Project program, as a fully developed program, received copyright and permission to be distributed all over the United States of America.
The Prevention Project program received an anonymous grant for $20,000, which allowed RJI to hire a full-time manager, Jessica Willis, for the Prevention Project to flourish into a nationwide-accessible program.
The Prevention Project curriculum received a prestigious National Award from the National Association of Counties.
The pilot program for the Prevention Project curriculum was delivered to Hermitage High School.
Interviews and filming also took place to document the process and results.
(Click here to check out the full mini-documentary on our front page.)
The pilot materials for the Prevention Project program were created by a team of teen trafficking survivors, law enforcement, anti-human trafficking experts, and educators, led by Sara Pomeroy, Founder of Richmond Justice Initiative.
On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11, 2012, AT&T awarded Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI) with a grant that was a catalyst to create the Prevention Project program! RJI was honored to have many anti-trafficking state representatives with us on this groundbreaking day!