Some of the EverWell team members at a June 2023 event in Brentwood, TN
EverWell was founded in January of 2023, and grew out of years of dedicated work from many people. Within six months of opening EverWell awarded ten scholarships to survivors of human trafficking in two countries and five states. Now, EverWell is preparing to increase the number of students supported and the number of countries and states represented in the upcoming fall 2023 semester.
EverWell is entirely volunteer-run. This allows our team to keep overhead costs low while maximizing the support we are able to provide to scholars. Operations are run by a team of volunteers led by the Director, Rachel Harmon. The organization is overseen by an advisory board chaired by Shelley Stinelli. Scholarship award decisions are made by a selection committee made up of survivors and experts in education. You can read more about our team here.
In 2018 an organization, Free for Life International (FFLI), launched a national scholarship program for survivors of human trafficking. This concept was proposed by Rachel Harmon, a board member of FFLI, after she and other FFLI team members observed the need for this type of resource system for survivors. FFLI, which was founded by Colette Bercu, was led at the time by Executive Director Gabrielle Thompson. Gabrielle played an integral role in the development and success of this program that awarded more than 100 scholarships to survivors across the United States. Her leadership was crucial in exponentially growing the program, securing funding, and building relationships with students, donors, and volunteers. Gabrielle left FFLI in mid-2022 and is now the President and CEO of IDEAS.
Unfortunately, FFLI faced capacity and resource constraints and made the difficult decision to end operations in 2022. However, many team members did not want the scholarship program to come to an end when so many survivors were finding support through the program. It is out of that challenging time that the idea for EverWell was born. Many of the current EverWell team members were part of the FFLI board, staff, and committees, and we honor and appreciate the memory of the FFLI organization as providing a foundation for EverWell to build on. While EverWell is still a relatively new organization, our team brings with us several years of experience in providing scholarships to survivors thanks to our experience with FFLI. We have taken the lessons learned through our time with FFLI to create a sustainable organization that is survivor-centered that now has global reach.
Gabrielle Thompson, former Executive Director of FFLI