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$1.2 million grant boosts YSPH student’s work assisting human trafficking victims

December 06, 2023
by Fran Fried

Nathan Earl ’24, a student in the Yale School of Public Health’s Executive MPH Program and an anti-human trafficking advocate, was a collaborator on a recent joint $1.2 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The three-year grant comes through the DOJ’s Anti-Trafficking Housing Assistance Program. It was given to Call to Freedom (CTF), a South Dakota-based organization that supplies care and support to people impacted by sex and labor trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, in partnership with giantslayer LLC, Earl’s Florida-based organization dedicated to preventing trauma and violence experienced by boys, men, and two-spirit LGBTQ+ young people.

The money will allow CTF to provide transitional housing (6-24 months) and supportive services to trafficking survivors throughout South Dakota.

“I was elated” at the news of the grant and “pleasantly surprised” at its amount, Earl said. “We’ve long known that housing security is a key determinant of positive health and a promotive factor against human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. To see the Department of Justice invest in securing housing for those impacted by human trafficking is a huge win.”

Earl has been collaborating with CTF on anti-trafficking initiatives since March 2022. The grant, awarded in October, runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2026, and will help deliver support services for trafficking victims in rural South Dakota, where existing public health resources are scarce. As a survivor of human trafficking, Earl said that individuals who have experienced trafficking routinely identify housing and shelter as a top need, one critical to their economic mobility and self-sufficiency.

To see the Department of Justice invest in securing housing for those impacted by human trafficking is a huge win.

Nathan Earl

“After realizing the need for more inclusive services in South Dakota and the positive outcomes of the male-centric training I provide, we decided to apply for this grant to scale up and include housing in our service response,” he said.

For his part, Earl is happy for the opportunity this grant gives him to help implement a different way of thinking when it comes to assisting trafficking survivors.

“What I'm most excited about is the opportunity to teach, model, and hold space with stakeholders who have traditionally applied a criminal justice approach to violence prevention as they transition to this public health approach,” he said.

This grant is the second in which Earl has been a collaborator. Before coming to YSPH, he teamed with the University of Southern Mississippi’s newly formed Center for Human Trafficking Research and Training (CHRT) to apply for grant funding. In October 2022, CHRT was awarded a $497,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to help equip education and health systems to prevent human trafficking.

This grant was for the first year of CHRT’s five-year SOAR (Stop, Observe, Ask, Respond) to Health and Wellness Training Demonstration Program. Its purpose is to equip professionals in clinical health and social services settings to identify, treat, and respond to patients and clients impacted by human trafficking by delivering culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and patient-centered care.

Now in the second cycle of the grant, SOAR is going very well, Earl said. “Our first year was spent on building linkages and onboarding key partners across the continuum. We’ve developed our training curricula, and will begin robust training on all facets of human trafficking across the health systems and surrounding communities in Southern Mississippi this year.”

Submitted by Fran Fried on December 06, 2023