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May 13, 2024

Framingham charity supporting human trafficking survivors receives cut of $1 million in state grants

A woman wearing a green jacket speaks at a podium. A man in a gray suit is behind her. Photo | Courtesy of State House News Service Gov. Maura Healey and Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz

As part of the Healey Administration’s efforts to bolster programs within Massachusetts working to support human trafficking survivors and those most at risk of exploitation, RIA, a Framingham-based public charity, has been selected as one of five organizations within the state splitting $1 million in funding. 

Each organization, chosen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in consultation with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, will receive $200,000 as a one-time grant effective from July through December 2026, according to a Friday press release from the DPH. 

“This grant funding supports the crucial work of community service providers in aiding survivors as they heal and rebuild their lives,” Terrence Reidy, secretary of public safety and security, said in the release. “Forming strong partnerships is key to combating this heinous crime and ensuring everyone’s right to live with dignity, respect, and without fear of abuse.”

RIA, standing for “ready, inspire, act”, offers free and confidential services including peer mentorship, advocacy, and case management to adults who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking, according to RIA’s website. 

Focused on holistic health, RIA offers support through four main impact areas including basic needs and safety, health and well-being, housing security, and economic empowerment. In 2023, RIA provided 5,930 one-on-one services to 95 survivors throughout the Greater Boston, MetroWest, and Worcester regions, according to RIA’s 2023 impact report. Those services included 3,614 peer mentorship meetings, 747 clinical therapy sessions, 638 support group encounters, 517 case management meetings. 

“Across the nation and here in Massachusetts, human trafficking continues to be a serious public health issue that disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable populations, including those living in poverty, children, and undocumented immigrants,” Dr. Robbie Goldstein, commissioner of the DPH, said in the release. “Human trafficking is a profound violation of the most basic human rights, steeped in violence and coercion that pushes people into an oppressed existence. Public health can – and must – play a key role in identifying and addressing this complicated and multidimensional problem.”

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