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April 25, 2024

Grantee Spotlight: Freedom a la Cart

Thanks to an OSBF grant of $19,500, OSBF grantee Freedom a la Cart is advancing its mission through the Legal Resource & Education Project, providing legal education and resource referrals to survivors of sex trafficking. Freedom a la Cart also created digital educational videos on specialty dockets and restorative justice which were utilized at community workshops. We are excited to share more about the work they are doing to empower survivors of human trafficking.

Freedom a la Cart is a nonprofit social enterprise, dedicated to empowering survivors of human trafficking and helping them rebuild their lives with dignity and self-sufficiency. Through various programs such as restorative justice support, workforce development, housing assistance, and the Butterfly Program, survivors are given the necessary tools and resources to thrive.

We joined Katie Kettlehake, Engagement Manager at Freedom a la Cart, at their offices in downtown Columbus to speak more about Freedom’s mission and the project that OSBF supported. Underneath their offices, Freedom a la Cart runs their café, where survivors receive paid training and personal support while working in the kitchen. Each purchase also supports their programs, helping provide even more workforce training and services for local survivors. 

"Freedom is a place where survivors can heal, learn, and grow as they establish personal and economic self-sufficiency. Through the workforce development program, survivors are able to experience paid job shadowing and internships with business partners as they explore what different career paths might look like for them. As they secure their next stable job, we continue direct support for another year to strengthen job retention," Katie explains.

The Legal Resource & Education Project supported by the OSBF was focused on driving dialogue in the community. With funding from the OSBF, Freedom a la Cart conducted workshops to educate survivors on civil legal matters they may encounter, covering topics like debt and student loans, family law, expungement law, and housing law. The impact of these workshops has been profound, with 25 survivors gaining invaluable knowledge about their legal rights and receiving support from legal professionals. Additionally, the project extends its reach to educate the wider community on the effectiveness of specialty court dockets and restorative justice approaches.

"Through these workshops, survivors were empowered with knowledge and now understand better their legal rights as citizens," said Katie. "A post-workshop survey showed that 100% of survivor respondents reported that their knowledge had increased on the legal topic presented, and 80% indicated they felt they had an easy next step to take,” said Katie.

In addition to workshops, Freedom a la Cart produced digital educational videos to further amplify its message. These videos provide insights into specialty court dockets and highlight the successes of participants in the organization's programs, offering hope and inspiration to survivors and supporters alike.

"This project is important to creating a more just Ohio because survivors of human trafficking are being empowered to advocate for themselves when they face legal barriers due to their experience with being trafficked,” said Katie. “The Legal Resource & Education Project provided an important opportunity to create public change as we believe survivor legal education and community education on restorative justice are both key to long-term justice for survivors of human trafficking throughout our region."

Collaborations with various restorative justice court programs and community organizations have also enhanced the project's effectiveness and outreach. Survivor workshops conducted in partnership with Advocating Opportunity, Legal Aid, Pohler & Keck, and the Ohio State Bar Association have created a supportive environment for survivors to access resources and guidance.

Nothing underscores the tangible impact of the project better than testimonials and stories from survivors who participated in the workshops:

"Thanks to the expungement workshop and help of Freedom a la Cart I gained the knowledge to complete paperwork and navigate the system," said one survivor. "A few months went by and the Judge herself called me explaining the gratitude she had for granting this order for someone that has been down the path and suffered from all the trauma and being able to give a 2nd chance at a new way of life. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be where I am today celebrating the victories due to the help of the expungement workshop and Freedom."

As the project continues to unfold, Katie and Freedom a la Cart wanted to express their deep gratitude for the Ohio State Bar Foundation's support, acknowledging the pivotal role it has played in bringing about positive change. The Legal Resource & Education Project stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, advocacy, and education in creating a more just and equitable society for all.

Freedom a la Cart | LinkedIn

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