Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: January 26, 2023

Preble Street awarded $2.5M grant to increase fight against human trafficking

Mark Swann speaking at a press conference File photo Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, which just received a $2.5 million grant in coordination with the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project and Pine Tree Legal Assistance to help survivors of human trafficking throughout Maine.

Preble Street will be increasing services, outreach and solutions to help fight human trafficking, thanks to a three-year, $2.5 million grant awarded in coordination with the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project and Pine Tree Legal Assistance.

The funding, from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, will help provide training to law enforcement agencies, service providers and communities to better understand human trafficking, U.S. protections, and available resources for trafficked victims/survivors.  

Throughout Maine, children and adults of all genders, ages and races are forced to perform many different types of work through threats, physical and sexual violence, and psychological coercion, according to Preble Street. Industries besides sex work that target vulnerable populations include farm labor, domestic service and restaurant and hospitality.

Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services has supported more than 600 victims of human trafficking across the state since 2013, enrolling over 300 people in intensive case management and housing support services. Now, thanks to the grant funding, Preble Street and its partners will be able to increase those services for victims of labor trafficking in Maine.  

“Maine has an active and coordinated anti-trafficking response, but it also has a high rate of trafficking, which especially impacts marginalized and underserved communities," said Jade Johnson, Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services director. Among those particularly at risk are asylum-seekers, migrant laborers, individuals without status, and people impacted by incarceration, she said, adding, “Poverty, substance use, a lack of affordable housing, and a multitude of barriers to access needed services are just some of the factors that allow exploitation and trafficking to thrive in our state.

Johnson praised the "critical funding" that will allow Preble Street and its partner agencies to support a greater number of people "through a trauma-informed, strengths-based approach" and ramp up the effort to combat all forms of human trafficking. 

Sue Roche, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, said, “Being empowered with legal information, knowing your rights, and having a lawyer by your side as an advocate is vital for immigrants in escaping dangerous, inhumane, and unjust work conditions and disrupts those who target immigrant communities.

"ILAP looks forward to working with our partners to expand access to justice and to build a stronger safety net for vulnerable immigrants victimized by traffickers in Maine.” 

"Everyone in our state has the legal right to be free from severe labor exploitation, including forced labor and trafficking, but the people most at risk often cannot access the resources needed to make their rights a reality,” said Tom Fritzsche, executive director of Pine Tree Legal.  

Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services offers emergency and intensive case management services and advocates for victims of trafficking. The organization has worked with all ages, genders, identities, immigration statuses, and types of trafficking.  

Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services also operates the Healing Center, the only place in Maine for victims/survivors to access case management services, mental health counseling, connections to medical services and services from partner agencies. The Healing Center also offers a training center for best practices in collaborating with victims/survivors towards their goals, a computer lab and houses a number of survivor-led activities such as support groups, yoga classes and meditation. 

Preble Street is a nonprofit human service agency serving the most vulnerable people in Maine since 1975 through innovative, best-practice, client-centered programs. In addition to the largest direct service emergency food program in northern New England, Preble Street operates programs throughout Maine for homeless youth, women, veterans and victims of trafficking. For more about the services offered by Preble Street, see

In his 30-year career at Preble Street, Executive Director Mark Swann grew the organization from two employees working in Portland to nearly 300 employees and 1,000 volunteers working all over the state of Maine in response to an increase in trafficking, homelessness and other social issues. Swann was named a 2022 Nonprofit Business Leader of the Year by Mainebiz. 

The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project is Maine’s only statewide immigration legal services organization, helping more than 3,000 low-income immigrants each year through direct legal services and community legal education while advocating for a more just and humane U.S. immigration system. To learn more, visit  

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF