Davis Announces Project Oz Awarded Federal Grant
Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) today announced that the Project Oz has been awarded a grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Children and Families.
This grant will allow Project Oz to establish a new transitional living program designed to intervene in and prevent commercial sexual exploitation trafficking of homeless youth. This program will establish nine subsidized, transitional-living apartments for homeless youth who have experiences or are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation or trafficking. The program also offers services that allow the youth to successfully transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The grant is in the amount of $194,726.
“The efforts of Project Oz to combat youth homelessness, exploitation, and sex trafficking are crucial not just for McLean County, but for Illinois as a whole,” Davis said. “Human trafficking is now the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and Illinois has the eighth highest number of reported cases in the U.S. As we continue our efforts in Congress to stop human trafficking, Project Oz is exactly the kind of local resource we need to prevent this criminal industry from growing and save at-risk children in our communities from becoming victims. Thank you to the team at Project Oz for helping make a difference in the lives of children in Central Illinois.”
“Sexual exploitation exists in every community across the nation but not every community is fortunate enough to have the resources needed to intervene and to offer viable alternatives to youth,” said Peter Rankaitis, executive director of Project Oz. “We are appreciative at the opportunity afforded to us through HHS to do so in McLean County.”
Davis has made combating human trafficking and sexual assault a priority. In June, the House passed three bipartisan bills to stop human trafficking. He has also hosted several roundtables in the 13th District to bring experts and survivors together to raise awareness. Davis was also a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Task Force in 2014, where he worked with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass various bills to address these issues, including many that were eventually signed into law.
Project Oz is a non-profit organization based out of Bloomington that provides an array of services for students, children, and families in Livingston and McLean counties. Over 8,000 youth receive assistance from Project Oz each year, which includes counseling, education and career planning, healthy living strategies, and student support services to students in local school districts. The organization also provides aid, shelter, and safety for runaway and homeless youth in the bi-county region.