• 73°

LaGrange nonprofit becomes finalist in grant program

Non-profit organization Illuminate Justice has been selected as the only nonprofit from LaGrange for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant program, according to Illuminate Justice founder Maggie Turner.

“Out of 2000 applicants, we are one of 200 finalists,” she said. “The 40 organizations with the most votes from Aug. 18 to Aug. 27 will be awarded $25,000 [each].”

According to State Farm Neighborhood Assist, voting for one of the organizations is as easy as visiting its page on the site https://www.neighborhoodassist.com and clicking the vote button there. The page for Illuminate Justice is at https://www.neighborhoodassist.com/entry/2039716.

Visitors may vote for an organization up to 10 times a day for 10 days. You must have a valid email address to vote. Winners will be announced on Sept. 29.

The mission of Illuminate Justice is to help communities prevent child trafficking and exploitation. Its page says that it exists strategically in LaGrange where there are no other organizations to end human trafficking.

“Here, there is a high rate of poverty and children here are exceptionally vulnerable,” the page says. “Our holistic plan for preventing child trafficking includes (1) prevention education with children in high risk categories, focusing primarily on children in foster care, group homes, and juvenile detention, (2) survivor-created health campaigns to help inform children about the tactics traffickers use to exploit their victims, and (3) our Empowered to Protect Conference, which informs and equips educators, social service providers, faith-leaders and other members of the community to identify and care for vulnerable children.”

The page says that according to Polaris and other reputable anti-trafficking agencies, data shows that 75% of child trafficking victims have been in foster care before or during their exploitation.

“Our prevention conference, Empowered to Protect, focuses on not just equipping the community to identify child victims, but to work toward preventing child sexual abuse,” it says. “The conference also presents the great need for more loving families to adopt and foster as a way to protect our communities’ most vulnerable children. Further, we bring leading experts to offer support and guidance for care-providers in how to [provide] trauma-informed services for children. The $25,000 would allow [us] to host our Empowered to Protect Conference, potentially educating thousands, with an immediate goal of seeing more caring individuals equipped to care and protect kids.”