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February 25th, 2019

USU’s SEED program wins top national award for helping survivors learn entrepreneurship skills

Last year, Operation Underground Railroad partnered with the Jon M. Huntsman School of Utah State University to bring the SEED program to our partnering aftercare homes. O.U.R. is passionate about maintaining ongoing mentoring and vocational training in every area we work. We are excited about our partnership to great empower aftercare homes in Central and South America. The SEED program stands for Small Enterprise Education and Development program. We are so grateful for Executive Director Mike Glauser and Program Coordinator Andy Thunell, who have gone above and beyond to create this SEED program to empower survivors. It has been an honor to work with them.

SEED Program leaders conducted a training for 150 leaders in South America to help them empower survivors.

After studying entrepreneurship and other business skills for a year, interns travel to our partnering aftercare homes in South America to teach survivors important business skills so they can make a livable income after they leave the aftercare home. The interns’ incredible mentorship and passion have made a significant impact on many survivors’ lives.

The Jon M. Huntsman school recently won a top national entrepreneurship award for the work they have done in the SEED program. The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) awarded first place to the Jon M. Huntsman school for Excellence in Co-Curricular Innovation. With 53 universities competing for four different categories, we are so grateful to see the incredible SEED program honored in this way for the work they have done to help survivors in an essential part of the healing process.

O.U.R. Aftercare Director Jessica Mass speaking at the Huntsman 2019 Entrepreneur Leadership Series

The survivors that these interns teach have endured much hardship and trauma. Because of the difficult things they have gone through, it is often hard for them to feel that they will be successful in their economic endeavors. SEED program interns have provided 12-week business classes, mentored and empowered many of our survivors to start a business they are passionate about. This has led to survivors developing a variety of skills that eventually helped them to grow businesses including welding, sewing, salons, and restaurants. The SEED program interns have played an enormous role in helping survivors reach their dreams and change their families’ futures. It is incredible to watch survivors from the moment they are rescued, to going through aftercare services, to receiving business classes. In many instances, we have seen the chain of trafficking broken because these survivors are now able to provide for their children in a safe environment, safe from sexual exploitation. By empowering one, generations are forever changed.


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