NEST Celebrates Three Year Anniversary
NEST is a product of years of research, lots of meetings, phone calls and more research, and an incredibly committed Advisory Committee and Coordinator that have seen it through to what it is today.
It all started when Heather Tuininga, Executive Director of the Luke 12:48 Foundation, was doing research on the demand side of human trafficking. After doing a full literature analysis, she discovered several statistics about men who purchase sex, one of which wouldn’t leave her mind: 74-86% of the men who purchased sex bought by the time they were 25 years old. She kept thinking “what if we educated all of the young men in this country under the age of 25 about the harms of human trafficking – to themselves, the women they are purchasing, and to their communities and the world? If we did, and none of them ever chose to purchase sex (or consume pornography) again, we could probably end the demand for sex trafficking in our lifetime. Wow!”
So she went to the next stage of research to find the organizations that were educating young men about trafficking. Tuininga invited two other philanthropic foundations (Imago Dei Fund and Equitas Group) who care about reducing the demand for commercial sex in the United States to join with her. The three foundations invited numerous NGOs to attend an important roundtable discussion to share best-practices on creating and implementing a domestic human trafficking prevention curriculum for youth.
On September 11th and 12th eight NGOs met with the three organizers and spent 24 hours together to learn from one another, dream together, and consider the best next steps for implementing curriculum specifically focusing on demand reduction around the United States. The meeting was incredible. NGOs who attended the roundtable were: Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), Frederick Douglas Family Initiatives (FDFI), AWARE, Love 146, Trafficking in America Task Force (now Network for Cultural Change), Traffick911, Fair Girls, and Richmond Justice Initiative.
After about 24 hours of learning and discussion together, we decided there was already a great group of existing curriculum available (for educating both boys and girls) and the best thing to do was to get the word out to educators across the country, so that more youth could get this valuable information and human trafficking would decline. NEST was born.
We then began the collaborative process to create the purpose/mission statements, the preliminary version of what we wanted to accomplish, vetted website creation/structure/content, establish the benefits of joining as a curriculum provider, discuss parameters of NEST (resources, conference, webinars, warehouse of supplemental curriculum materials, etc.), discern the roles/responsibilities of a permanent Advisory Council, and decide the time commitment required for the coordinator.
We’ve come a long way! Since then we’ve scoured the country for additional curriculum and other youth-focused resources and created the website for educators to be able to quickly find an age-appropriate, demographically suitable curriculum for their youth.
It seems like just last week that we all met to dream about a future free of sexual exploitation and gender violence. That dream is one step closer to becoming a reality. THANK YOU to all of the many curriculum providers and resources for all of the work you’ve put into developing your programs, and the many resources and community forums. NEST is YOUR website! We hope that educators across the nation will soon be incorporating your curriculum in their schools.
Clockwise from the top, the NEST Team that got the ball rolling: Heather Tuininga (Luke 12:48 Foundation – founder), Caleb Probst (Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation – on advisory committee since inception), Jessica Willis (Richmond Justice Initiatives – current advisory committee member), Yvonne Williams (Network for Cultural Change – on advisory committee since inception and current NEST coordinator), Sarah Pomeroy (Richmond Justice Initiatives – Initial advisory committee member), Justin Wassel (Human Trafficking Advocate – current advisory committee member), Tony Talbott (University of Dayton – current advisory committee member), Jim Grenfell (Aware, initial advisory committee member), Cindy Bankston (Northwest Family Services – current advisory committee member), Tammy Honeycutt (1st NEST Coordinator).