The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects is excited to be among the recipients of The Life Story Grants, a three-year initiative funded by the NoVo Foundation to close the on ramps into the sex trade and open pathways to exit. With this funding, The Lighthouse will be able to deepen our commitment to supporting those currently in the sex trade and those who are at-risk.
Informed by survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, The Life Story Grants invests in solutions that address the systemic failures that allow the sex trade to thrive and profit off of marginalized girls and women, including women of color, trans, LGBTQ, Indigenous and immigrant communities.
The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects was borne from work with girls and young women in southern, rural communities in the Mississippi Delta, Black Belt of Alabama and southwest Georgia. The work required more depth, more breadth; the leaders tasked with shaping vision for the communities needed more heart, more understanding. And systems needed interrogating.
Because of our work in rural areas, we’ve learned sexual exploitation and sex trafficking rarely look like being sold into “the life.” Though just as insidious, it relies on the complicity of even more systems—familial, societal, economic, etc. Though this is the organization’s first time working on addressing this matter, it is not the organization’s first time addressing complicated matters with people who can be difficult to engage with about taboo topics.
Commercial sexual exploitation in this context is a reproductive justice issue we don’t often hear about. This requires the patience and relationship-building of organizing work, the strategizing of mobilization and the understanding of familial systems on individuals like a marriage and family therapist.
We are proud to be one of the 15 projects selected to implement systems-based solutions in one of six key areas identified by survivors where existing inequities enable exploitation: housing, medical needs, law enforcement, trauma and mental health, immigration, and systems impacting youth.