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Sometimes our inspirational Solver solutions complement each other perfectly, expanding both teams' impact. This story is one such example.
Solver AnnieCannons teaches coding skills to survivors of human trafficking—but it can be hard to study on an empty stomach. Meanwhile, Solver Copia enables businesses to redistribute high-quality extra food to people in need. For the past several months, Copia has been delivering food to AnnieCannons, providing an additional level of support to students and their families. These two organizations are tightly aligned; they're both woman-led, using tech for social good, and working to eliminate misconceptions surrounding their recipients.
This partnership story was originally posted on Copia's blog.
You may have heard about a growing number of “coding bootcamps” popping up around US cities; where, in just a few short months, people can learn skills to gain access to high-paying tech jobs regardless of formal education or background.
Jessica Hubley and Laura Hackney, co-founders of, recognized that this model could help economically disadvantaged populations gain job opportunities, and decided to replicate it for human trafficking survivors. And with that, AnnieCannons was born.
We sat down with Jessica and Laura to discuss their vision for AnnieCannons, the unique needs of their clients, and the value of food donations from Copia for equipping students with the resources they need to thrive.
Copia: Your mission to empower human trafficking survivors with software skills training is brilliant. Why do you think education and careers in technology are so important for women and specifically for survivors of trafficking?
AnnieCannons: Economic opportunity is the key to breaking generational exploitation. By training our students in tech skills demanded by the market and then sourcing and managing client work, we’re providing our students earning opportunities with strong growth potential. We’re leveraging the growth of the $1.5 trillion software services industry to drive economic power into the hands of survivors on a massive scale.
Copia: That’s incredible! Can you speak a bit about the clients you serve and their unique needs?
AnnieCannons: The population that we work with has survived exploitation in the form of human trafficking and struggled to support themselves once outside of their situation of exploitation. Many of those we serve have been in foster care, group homes, neglected or abused by familial systems, or homeless. We work with survivors who have been failed by our communities and the governmental systems that have been tasked with ensuring their education or safety.
The problem is not that these individuals are incapable of contributing meaningfully to society. The problem is that the anti-trafficking movement and other government services do not have the capacity or vision to support these individuals thriving in new industries and learning career-building skills. We offer a small-group, trauma-informed, product-based training ranging from data entry to full-stack software development to help talented survivors reach their potential and break the cycle of victimization.
Copia: Your skill-based training is admirable on its own—yet you also provide additional support services for your students. Can you describe a few of those?
AnnieCannons: We provide holistic community and wellness services such as yoga, nutrition counseling, and self-defense classes. We also have childcare and incubator-style furnishing that allows our graduates to work on their client projects in our facility. By providing these support services, we hope that we allow our students to focus on learning and doing their best in their coursework. Additionally, having catered meals in our classroom from Copia has given our students one less thing to worry about on class days and allows them to focus on their coursework.
Copia: We love to hear that! Speaking of the value of food, why do you think healthy food is important for your clients and their success in your program?
AnnieCannons: Software development is complex and multilayered, and we do our best to create an environment that allows our students to learn effectively. Food and nutrition is an integral part of this. Ultimately, it's hard—if not impossible—to learn on an empty stomach. Copia helps us take care of our students and graduates... as well as our staff too!
Copia: We absolutely agree that healthy food is a stepping stone to reaching one’s full potential. What struggles do your clients typically face in terms of acquiring healthy food?
AnnieCannons: Preparing healthy food requires time, work, planning and money. For our students, the opportunity cost of buying food often means forgoing other important household items, especially given the cost of living in the Bay Area. One student told us she was able to save enough money to buy her children much-needed toothpaste thanks to the cost-savings from Copia food donations. In short, having food in the classroom gives them one less thing to worry about.
Copia: We’re so inspired by all that you’re doing. What’s one last thing you’d like us to know about AnnieCannons?
AnnieCannons: Fighting human trafficking can feel like an enormous challenge, but anyone can contribute to our mission and help survivors. Hiring us or referring someone who can is a great way to help us break down misconceptions about survivors and give them opportunities to support themselves and their families financially. We help companies, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs with data entry and management, web development, mobile app development, and more! Check out our portfolio or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Jessica Hubley pitches AnnieCannons at Solve Challenge Finals on September 17, 2017. (Photo: Samuel Stuart / MIT Solve)