Introducing the First Fair Trade High School in America

by Tim Newman November 23, 2010 02:29 PM (PT) Topics: Child Labor, Fair Trade, Slave Labor, Workers’ Rights

Congratulations to the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York on becoming the first official Fair Trade high school in the United States. This private school for girls will now be including Fair Trade options in the school’s dining facilities, at catered events and in its offices and store. And this historic decision all happened due to the hard work of some inspiring young activists and their faculty supporters.

According to Robert Naeher, Chair of the school’s History and Social Studies Department, several students became interested in the issue of forced labor around the world after hearing Benjamin Skinner, author of the book A Crime So Monstrous, speak in their community. Naeher and his students felt compelled to take action to stop modern day slavery and formed an organization at Emma Willard called Slavery No More.

The students and faculty involved with Slavery No More decided to focus on shifting their school’s food purchases to Fair Trade Certified products to ensure the money they spend at school is used to support workers and farmers. As Natalia Choi, a student and co-founder of Slavery No More said that the decision to become a Fair Trade school was easy since Fair Trade empowers people and communities.

Slavery No More worked extensively with the National Fair Trade University Steering Committee on their campaign. This coalition of representatives from campuses, students and nonprofit organizations is working to promote Fair Trade at schools across the country and is a great resource for other schools interested in joining the Emma Willard School in its commitment to Fair Trade. Slavery No More’s campaign included a lot of education, organizing and negotiation. As Naeher explained:

“Students made and put up posters around the school, shared information and video clips at our Morning Reports time (all-school period for announcements), hosted a couple of movie nights where information was again shared, had bake sales to raise funds for anti-slavery organizations, presented their proposal at a faculty meeting and obtained a unanimous vote of support from the faculty, presented their proposal to our School Council and again obtained a unanimous vote of support, met with Director of Dining Services and the school’s Chief Financial Officer to get their input on the feasibility of what they were proposing, made a formal presentation of their proposal to the Board of Trustees, and worked for several months in conjunction with one member of the Board to provide additional information and revise some aspects of the proposal to meet Board concerns.”

The hard work and determination of these student activists impressed the school’s administration as well. Trudy Hall, Head of the School, said,

“This accomplishment is precisely what comes of empowering young women to pursue their passion and commitment to making the world turn better. Our young women put their education to work on behalf of those whose voices need to be heard; they are living the mission of this school, serving and shaping their world.”

Hopefully, the students at Emma Willard will inspire others to join them in making their high schools Fair Trade. Naeher has some great advice for those interested in launching similar campaigns at their schools: “Be patient, do your homework, be willing to listen carefully so that you can understand others’ concerns, be creative and have fun in thinking about how best to communicate information about Fair Trade, communicate information in a variety of ways, give people easy ways to get involved (supply fair trade baked goods for a fund raiser, help make information posters, etc.), and recognize that small steps add up to big ones.”

Let’s hope Emma Willard’s Fair Trade status is just one small step for high schools around the world. Congratulations to the students of Slavery No More and their faculty and non-profit supporters!

Photo credit: UpstateNYer

Where to Find Holiday Gifts that Help Human Trafficking Victims

This is a great article written by Amanda Kloer. This is wonderful!!

Are you sick of doing your holiday shopping at corporate malls and discount chains? Are you looking for unique gifts that create social change? Do you want giving this holiday season to be meaningful for people around the world? Then check out the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide. You can join the growing social movement to ditch the mall and buy better this holiday season– better for the planet, for people, and for you. As with everything you buy, we recommend you do your own research on the companies and organizations you choose to support financially. This guide is far from exhaustive, so please add your favorite places to buy gifts in the comments section. Check out the other parts here and here.

Where to Find Gifts That Directly Help Human Trafficking Victims

Did you know your holiday gift giving can benefit survivors of human trafficking? That’s because a number of organizations sell products made by survivors or which directly benefit programs to help trafficking survivors working to overcome their experiences in slavery. Buying products which benefit anti-trafficking initiatives is a great way to make a difference through a simple act of holiday shopping. Check out these existing collections of places to shop for gifts to benefit human trafficking survivors:

•Shop to Stop Slavery

•Free to Shop

Or, check out the following places to buy products which benefit human trafficking victims:

•Free the Slaves Store: Awesome original art prints, jewelry made by survivors, and books and other media about human trafficking. Proceeds benefit Free the Slaves.

•International Justice Mission Gift of Freedom: Support IJM’s efforts to seek justice for trafficking survivors by giving an aftercare package or trial fees. Proceeds benefit IJM.

•Made By Survivors: Unique and beautiful jewelry, bags, and other gifts made by survivors. Proceeds benefit vocational programs for survivors around the world.

•Not for Sale Freedom Store: Everything from Fair Trade coffee to shoes to t-shirts, including some interesting and unique art. Proceeds benefit the Not for Sale Campaign and vocational programs for survivors.

•Nightlight: Jewelry made by survivors that ranges from young and funky to mature and elegant. Proceeds benefit vocational programs for trafficking survivors and at-risk women.

•Nomi Network: Bags big and small, many of which are made from recycled materials making them cute, green, and good for trafficking survivors.

•Riji Green: Customizable handbags and t-shirts way cooler than anything available at the mall. A portion of the proceeds benefits International Justice Mission.

•Sapa Sapa: Handmade, vegan soaps and lip balms with all natural ingredients. Proceeds benefit Cambodian nonprofits that work with survivors.

•Shoe Revolt: Previously-loved shoes (including some from celebrities) ranging from sneakers to pumps. Proceeds go to support a number of anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S.

•Stop Traffick Fashion: Fashion-forward t-shirts, handbags, and jewelry, much of which is made by survivors. A portion of revenue benefits nonprofits that work with survivors.

If cash is tight this time of year or you’re not into giving physical items, here are some great alternative holiday giving ideas:
•Make a donation to an anti-trafficking organization in your area. Here are a number of great groups to choose from.

•Volunteer at a local anti-trafficking organization with friends or family.

•Host a holiday fundraiser, awareness-raiser, or human trafficking film watching party.

•Check out the gift catalogs for Heifer International, Oxfam Unwrapped, and World Vision, that have gifts like a goat for a family or books for children, which can help reduce the risk of human trafficking around the world.

No matter how you celebrate this time of year, remember that you have the opportunity to be part of the movement of socially responsible consumerism. And when you choose gifts that help end human trafficking, you make the holidays happier for those you love and people living in or recovering from slavery all over the world.

12 days of Fair Trade

Thank you to Fair Trade USA for this information. For the holidays, buy Fair Trade Products! Here are some suggestions that Fair Trade USA has made.

Sing along: One the first day of Christmas, my Fair Trade fanatic gave to me…

Twelve Pounds of Coffee
Yes, your true love will definitely require twelve pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee (one pound per month). So why not make them all different? You can choose from Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Organic Coffee Sampler, BuyWell Fair Trade Coffee’s signature Screaming Monkey Blend (Check out BuyWell’s Coffee Gift Guide for more ideas), Tony’s Holiday Blend Gift Pack, Thanksgiving Coffee’s “Delicious Peace” Dark Roast, Alterra Coffee Roaster’s Peacemaker Espresso, Caffe Ibis’ Organic Cafe Femenino, Pura Vida Coffee’s Cafe Kilimanjaro, Peace Coffee’s Blendo Suave, Burlap & Bean’s Peppermint, Weaver’s Coffee and Tea’s Eco Tote and Coffee Gift Set or Starbucks Cafe Estima Blend. The list really does go on and on…

You could also sign your loved one up for the Grounds for Change Coffee of the Month Club – sure to impress!