The Carole Landis Foundation establishes close alliances with nonprofit organizations with sustainable social action programs.
In June, the Foundation gave $24,000 in grants - two grants going to both Trellis for Tomorrow and Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
The Foundation funded for the third consecutive year Trellis For Tomorrow’s Youth Seed Enterprise program in Chester and Montgomery Counties. Students ages 13-18 plant, develop and establish four organic gardens, manage the gardens, and twice annually harvest the produce and provide the vegetables to the neighbors of their communities, many of whom are struggling with hunger.
In 2020, more than 40 middle and high school students participated in this eight-week summer program (this year 60 students signed up to participate in the program). The students gain many leadership and life development skills, while earning money for their participation.
Covid-19 restrictions last year did not deter students and staff counselors. They pivoted to a hybrid of virtual and in-person programming, staggering garden schedule times so they could social-distance. The four organic vegetable garden sites harvested 8,000 pounds of nutrient-dense produce for the neighbors of their communities.
The Foundation recognizes the problem of sex trafficking of pre-teen and teenage girls and boys in the Delaware Valley. The Foundation has funded for the sixth consecutive year The Justice For Victims Clinical Fellowship, a program of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Institute To Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE Institute).
The two attorneys who are the Clinical Fellows provide direct services and advocacy for the trafficked victims, forming a web of support for the survivors. They work with judges in restorative justice programs that benefit the victims. In addition, they may provide post-conviction relief by seeking “vacatur” status - clearing clients of their criminal records, so they can pursue independent housing choices and employment, without the stigma of incriminating background checks.
The Institute works with state, local and national legislators to improve the legal system’s response to commercial sexual exploitation. After five years, the CSE Institute was pivotal in Pennsylvania passing the “Safe Harbor Act” - Act 130-r (January, 2019). The bill’s language reflects that it is wrong to criminalize a child who is bought and sold for sex and its related crimes.
The executive director and staff of the CSE Institute use their law platform to advocate for social change - examining real-time issues. For several months in 2020, they engaged in a myth-busting campaign to expose the disinformation spread by QAnon conspiracy theorists who used the Covid pandemic to fuel social media campaigns, and #SaveTheChildren rallies to spread misguided statements and false statistics about sex trafficking.
And most important, they listen to the voices of the survivors, and validate their experiences and trauma. The CSE Institute holds yearly symposiums (last year virtual), where the survivors, now respected and accomplished leaders in their communities throughout the U.S., share information with the multi-disciplinary organizations of professionals that are participants.