Philanthropic Ventures Foundation            Progress Newsletter  -  October 2014
From Trafficking Survivor to Graduate:  
An Insider Look at the Invention Hub's Latest Project

by: Carissa Ashman, PR Consultant

I have been collaborating with PVF by assisting with marketing, fundraising, public relations, and events. I am passionate about PVF's open sourced, collaborative approach to closing the Inequality Gap. This process is exemplified through our partnership with Not for Sale and MISSSEY, at the Invention Hub in San Francisco.


Photo credit: Kevin Meynell 

San Francisco ranks #3 in the US for human exploitation and trafficking, which is most directly correlated to poverty and the ever-widening Inequality Gap. Not for Sale has helped fight human trafficking globally and is focusing its latest campaign locally through a work readiness training program for Oakland survivors of child sexual exploitation, ages 18-25. The training consists of a three-week life skills training, which includes motivational speakers, resume support, bank account setup, a professional makeover, and more. After this training, they participate in paid internships in the service industry, such as at the Zynga cafeteria and Dignita café, which have the potential to turn into long-term employment.


On September 25th, these courageous women graduated from the program. To see their

Photo credit: Kevin Meynell  
transformation from day one to graduation was nothing short of inspiring. One graduate stated, "I used to not know what a CEO was. Now, I want to be one." I feel transformed after being part of this journey and look forward to keeping track of their progress. There was not a dry eye in the room as each graduate shared their stories of struggle and hope for the future. Some never thought they would survive or have the support to "get out." Mothers and significant others also spoke and shared their tears and appreciation for the positive influence and support from all of us to change these women's lives. It was such a powerful, raw, emotional, and joyful afternoon.



I also offered support to Venus Rodriguez, the project's leader, by coordinating affordable tattoo removal services. Women forced into prostitution are often branded in conspicuous locations with their pimp's name, and they are unable to both emotionally and professionally move forward without it being removed. 

From left to right: Caitlin Ross, Not for Sale's Manager of Social Impact; Venus Rodriguez, Not for Sale's Director of Bay Area Programs; Carissa Ashman of C-StarPR; and Margaret Mitchell of Epicenter MedSpa.


Tattoo removal takes approximately 10-12 sessions and costs thousands of dollars. Margaret Mitchell, the co-founder of Epicenter MedSpa in Union Square and her co-founder Dr. Bitter were so touched by this initiative that they have signed on to remove all branding tattoos of women who participate in the program.


This kind of grassroots impact is what we strive for. Seeing an opportunity to make a dent in the Bay Area's inequality gap, PVF provided the first seed funding for Not for Sale's domestic program to support initiatives exactly like this. 
Reflections from a Zimbabwean Grace Scholar 

Now in its 8th year, the Grace Scholarship Program is the result of a partnership between PVF and a donor to provide the critical gap funding necessary for bright, low-income Zimbabwean students who are a part of the US Achievers Program (USAP) to study at US and European universities.  


This year, we interviewed a few of the Grace Scholars to learn more about their background, experiences in college, and plans for the future. Below is our second interview with Allen Matsika, a senior studying Liberal Arts at St. Johns College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.




PVF: Tell us about your decision to study outside of your home country.  


AM: My high school History teacher, Mr. Masango told me once that there is no one reason for anything; this is the same with my decision to study outside Zimbabwe. I left Zimbabwe for many reasons, the main one being my desire to help people in Zimbabwe in some way.


Read the rest of our interview with Allen on our blog!
About PVF
PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.
About the Editors
James Higa
Executive Director
Bill Somerville

James Higa brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley, working with Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many products and services at Apple over 3 decades. He has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts.
Bill Somerville has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as President. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations, on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker.

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