For most survivors, life after exploitation is exceedingly difficult. They experience a host of challenges and barriers related to the lack of reliable and affordable services, along with a shortage of safe housing options.
They struggle with trauma, may have stunted educational backgrounds, criminal records, little to no work experience, and are typically not ready to rejoin the workforce, which leaves them at a marked disadvantage to support themselves or make meaningful contributions to their communities.
Although they have survived life-threatening experiences, although they are still standing, they find themselves frozen, navigating a new normalcy that doesn’t feel so “normal” to them. This is where Elevate Academy from Rebecca Bender Initiative steps in, offering survivors a safe space to learn, heal, thrive, and pursue their dreams while surrounded and supported by a community of peers who understand their personal journey.
This innovative online school for survivors of human trafficking gives students lifetime access to a secure, self-paced learning platform available 24/7 from any location with internet access.
Operating as the largest online school for survivors in the world, the goal of Elevate Academy is to equip students with the skills and confidence to attain sustainable economic opportunities in fields related to their passion.
Courses are designed specifically for survivors by survivors, addressing topics related to personal and professional development such as trauma and inner healing, public speaking, writing, and managing a business. Students are provided mentorship and coaching in one-to-one or group settings throughout their enrollment.
Graduates are provided exclusive opportunities for internships, consulting, speaking, education, and employment through the Elevate network each month. In fact, 90% of participants report lessons learned in Elevate Academy have increased their employability and 95% of students report an increase in income within 12 months of graduation.
The school is the brainchild of Rebecca Bender, a survivor who struggled to rebuild her life in a rural town that lacked services and access to the mentorship she craved after escaping her trafficker. Determined to create stronger futures for other survivors, she launched Elevate Academy in 2014 with only five students and it has grown to serve over 800 since then, providing desperately needed resources for survivors to hone their skills, discover their dreams, and reclaim their futures.
Through strategic funding support provided by The Jensen Project, Rebecca Bender Initiative will scale their Elevate Academy technology platform, expand and improve the curriculum with additional relevant courses, and offer an array of accredited certification courses. They will develop and implement an extension of the academy designed for residential programs and drop-in centers. Lastly, they will increase the number of survivor mentors to accommodate the influx of students, establish collaborative partnerships to provide more strategic therapeutic support, and implement a Professional Partner Network that connects survivors with successful business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The Jensen Project is proud to partner with Rebecca Bender Initiative as they empower generations of survivors to discover their talents, skills, and purpose, building a stronger workforce and reducing vulnerabilities worldwide.
A yearly grant program, funding up to $2 Million to advance economic empowerment and housing opportunities for agencies who serve adult female survivors of human trafficking.