New Friends New Life (NFNL) is a recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation. Funds will support the Legal Advocacy Fund designed to cover legal fees that sex trafficking survivors face, including court costs for legal processes like criminal record expungement. At NFNL, 65% of members (clients) have a criminal record as a direct result of being trafficked – a barrier that prohibits survivors from finding jobs, obtaining housing, and becoming stable, contributing members of the community.
“Navigating the criminal justice system is an intimidating process for survivors who are often without the financial resources or legal understanding to know what to do next,” shares Bianca Davis, Chief Executive Officer of New Friends New Life. “Support from the Texas Bar Foundation through the Legal Advocacy Fund helps to remove some of the most critical hurdles our women face, paving the way for them to become gainfully employed, thriving members of the community.”
The Legal Advocacy Fund is a critical component of the Barrier Removal Initiative underway at NFNL that includes the development of an on-site Legal Advocacy Clinic. Criminal charges represent a traumatizing reminder of sex trafficking survivors’ past abuse and a seemingly insurmountable barrier to achieving better housing, establishing a career, and meeting other goals. With a Legal Advocacy Clinic, new members of NFNL Women’s Program will meet with an onsite paralegal to review their criminal backgrounds and create a legal action plan. The addition of a Legal Advocacy Fund will help remove economic barriers for survivors to achieve independence by assisting with legal fees.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $23 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation.
About New Friends New Life:
Founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1998, New Friends New Life (NFNL) restores and empowers trafficked and sexually exploited teen girls, women and their children, and drives awareness of the issue and its prevalence. By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health, and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women and their children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty, and limited opportunities. In 2020, NFNL served 330 members (clients). NFNL also educates the community and works to eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking through advocacy, legislative reform and strategic partnerships that address systemic causes. In 2018, NFNL opened a drop-in Youth Resource Center (YRC) in partnership with the Office of the Governor to serve trafficked and high-risk teen girls. More than 100 girls visited the YRC during its first year. In 2015, NFNL organized its Men's Advocacy Group to engage men in the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation. For more information, visit http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org.