F.R.E.E. to Thrive

Wed, September 23 | 1:30 PM EDT– 2:30 PM EDT
Topic: Programming | Knowledge Level: Intermediate

LaDonna Knabbs, MA, Margaret, Toshia, and Rita O'Brien, LLMSW

The University of Toledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute’s F.R.E.E. program funded by the ECMC foundation provides scholarships and support for survivors of human trafficking. Specifically, the program has four phases, (1) Foundation, (2) Readiness, (3) Education , and (4) Employment. The acronym F.R.E.E. signifies each survivor’s potential to achieve economic and psychological freedom and empowerment. The presentation will discuss community partnerships and the efficacy of the four phases of the program. The Foundation phase includes the selections and screening process of adult survivors from across the country. An overview of the Readiness course is designed to achieve four objectives (1) To get students prepared for school, (2) To encourage students to tap into and use resources offered to be supported, (3) To empower students to achieve, and (4) To get students to be committed to complete their educational and career goals. The Education phase provides a $2,000 scholarship to an accredited vocational or degree program anywhere in the US. During the Employment phase, participants are assigned a job coach that provides a series of online virtual sessions that focus on job search, career exploration, personality assessments, soft skills, effective interviewing techniques, resume building, and more. Participation in the program involves comprehensive case management services on an ongoing basis. The services include incentives, mentoring, academic coaching, and emergency assistance. F.R.E.E. Participants will share their success stories while enrolled in the program. Learn more about program development and successful interventions for survivors of human trafficking.

Presentation Objectives
  • Discuss the efficacy of the F.R.E.E. Program component
  • Discuss collaborations with community partners
  • Share survivor’s success stories regarding support and interventions that prepared, supported, empowered, and helped them stay committed to obtaining their educational goals
  • Present findings of successful interventions for survivors in the program
  • Discuss the development, implementation, and evaluation of the F.R.E.E. Program
About the Presenters
LaDonna Knabbs, MA

LaDonna Knabbs, an adjunct faculty in the Sociology Department at Owens Community College and the Founder of My Sister’s House for Girls (MSHFG). She is the F.R.E.E. Program Coordinator for the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute which provides educational scholarships and employment services for local and non-local survivors of human trafficking.


Margaret was a participant in the F.R.E.E. program, received her certification in phlebotomy, and is aspiring to become a traveling phlebotomist.


Toshia was a participant in the F.R.E.E. program, received her certification as a yoga instructor, and founded Hogan Yoga @HoganYogaHealing. She is currently hosting online classes helping survivors overcome trauma through yoga.

Rita O'Brien, LLMSW

Rita O'Brien is a survivor and educator in the field of sex trafficking. Rita is a Board Member for Pearls of Great Price and Kalamazoo Area Anti Human Trafficking Coalition. Rita has her LLMSW in Social Work with a focus on trauma. Rita speaks out to get people to listen.