At their April 2021 board meeting, the Steelcase Foundation board of trustees approved a three-year $150,000 grant ($50,000 annually) to support Solutions to End Exploitation (SEE) as it partners with the Calvin University Center for Social Research to develop a “labor trafficking indicator scaling” tool to identify and document the prevalence of labor trafficking in Kent County and connect victims to culturally-attuned and victim-centered response mechanisms.
In 2019, SEE measured the illicit massage industry in Grand Rapids as generating over $6 million in income annually and proposed an innovative, collaboration in partnership with the Kent County Area Human Trafficking Coalition in collective research to disrupt labor trafficking. The initiative will utilize a labor trafficking indicator scaling tool, allowing community partners to collaboratively report and address instances of labor trafficking to better understand the scope of the problem in our region.
The Calvin Center for Social Research will create metrics to track progress, and coalition member AgHelp will partner with SEE to create technological tools to collect and store data to populate a community dashboard, building a shared data-trust around labor trafficking. The data will be available to all partners and create a continuous feedback loop of data and communication around progress.
As human trafficking flourishes in gaps between legitimate systems, SEE hopes that by closing these gaps through shared data and collaboration, the community will better understand the depth and breadth of human trafficking and its effects on victims. We’re appreciative of SEE’s efforts to tackle this unseen issue in our community to end practices that exploit vulnerable members of our community.