Coding is Giving Trafficking Survivors a Path to Self-Sufficiency

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Human TraffickingRehabilitation & LiberationSurvivor StoriesTechnology & Tools

A nonprofit in Oakland, California is helping female survivors of human trafficking find gainful employment by teaching them valuable skills on coding and cybersecurity.

AnnieCannons’ founders say that they started the organization to “break the cycle of trafficking through the power of technology training.” On top of this, by training female trafficking survivors, they hope to diversify the tech industry at large.

“We thought if survivors had the benefit of a coding boot camp, like we have in San Francisco — a short, focused vocational training, they could obtain the economic power necessary to avoid exploitation,” said AnnieCannons CEO Jessica Hubley.

Biztech reports:

According to its website, the AnnieCannons program “starts with data literacy and advances through HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as students demonstrate mastery. Later phases include full stack development, cybersecurity, visual design, and more.” The last phase of the program is “product driven” and seeks to offer students the opportunity to work on software products and development.

The Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit serves as an incubator for many of the projects that the students begin in the program.

“This is one of our core goals at AnnieCannons, to have students who want to address things like gender-based violence or trafficking in their projects, and build them out into their own companies or nonprofits,” Executive Director Laura Hackney tells The Chronicle of Social Change.

Those that complete the first phase of the program, which centers on digital basics, have an earning potential of up to $45,000 per year, while those that complete the web development phase of the program can achieve an annual earning potential of $80,000.

Most of the program’s graduates stay within the AnnieCannons network, working as contractors for the nonprofit and their various clients even before they graduate. In turn, they contribute to AnnieCannon’s long-term goal to be funded completely by business revenue.

“People said, ‘Just focus on training people and then find them jobs,’ but we couldn’t just do that,” said Executive Director Laura Hackney.

“For one thing, people need access to income throughout the training but also there are so many barriers for women, women of color, survivors of trafficking to make it in the tech industry.”

In the future, AnnieCannons hopes to expand into cities including Washington DC, Atlanta, and New York. They have also partnered up with Indiana University to offer a new 10-week online course in cybersecurity.

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