FreeFrom's Founder Honored With 2018 New America California Fellowship


FreeFrom's Executive Director, Sonya Passi, has been awarded the 2018 New America California Fellowship.

Out of 90 applicants, Sonya was chosen to join a cohort of 6 leaders championing social justice and community development throughout California.

“Great leading edge civic innovation and social change continues to come out of California,” shares Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America. “Our third cohort of California fellows is the embodiment of the renewal that is happening across this country.”

Over the next year, we will be working with New America to broaden our reach and build greater awareness of the need for economic justice for survivors of domestic violence statewide. We look forward to growing through this wonderful opportunity, and will keep you updated on our progress. 

Introducing Gifted By FreeFrom


We are thrilled to announce the launch of Gifted By FreeFrom,'s social enterprise focused on generating survivor wealth. 

The store features curated gift boxes including all natural self-care products made by survivor entrepreneurs.

70% of the price of each box goes directly to the entrepreneurs who handmade the products. In addition, each box is packaged and shipped by survivors whom FreeFrom employs for a living wage of $20 / hour.  


Coconut & Rose Soaking Salts
A Dozen Roses Body Soufflé
Coconut & Rose Moisturizing Soap
Love Potion Essential Oil Blend Roll-On


Lavender Lemon Body Polish
Lavender Lemon Body Soufflé
Lavender Eucalyptus Moisturizing Soap
Good Vibes Essential Oil Blend Roll-On


Pure Passion Body Soufflé
Coffee con Leche Moisturizing Soap
Pure Beeswax Intention-Setting Candle
Keep Calm Essential Oil Blend Roll-On

FreeFrom Wins the Impact & Audience Awards at 10th Annual SVP LA Fast Pitch


Last month, FreeFrom participated as one of the top 10 finalists in the SVP LAFast Pitch competition. We competed with 19 other organizations to present a 3-minute pitch on our work to an audience of 500 people. FreeFrom took home the Impact Award, as well as raising the most money from the audience.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and donated, the judges, SVP LA, and fellow organizations who participated. 

Click on the video above to watch our winning pitch! 

FreeFrom Nominated for Core77 and FastCompany Design Awards

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FreeFrom's Online Self-Help Compensation Tool, which has served more than 65,000 users since it launched at the end of January 2018, has been nominated for both the Core77 Design Award, and the Fast Company Innovation by Design Award.

Each award honors innovative organizations who are wielding technology to solve critical social problems. Stay tuned for updates on our tool as well as award results. 

To learn more about the tool, click on the link below. 

FreeFrom Trains Service Providers Nationwide on Financial Capacity Building with Survivors

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FreeFrom's Credit Repair and Entrepreneurship Program teams have been busy.

On March 6, we presented on Income and Credit Building with survivors who are undocumented to a packed room at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence annual conference in San Francisco. 

On March 27, we also presented at the Women of Color Network's Economic Policy & Leadership Regional Convening in San Francisco, addressing financial services and economic justice for survivors, with a particular focus on women of color and undocumented survivors. 

We are so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate, learn and share our ideas with other leaders in the domestic violence and economic justice movements. 

FreeFrom Signs on in Support of California Home Cooked Meals Bill

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FreeFrom signed on in support of California's Home Cooked Meals Bill (AB 626), to support small business owners and entrepreneurs who rely on their home kitchens to run their businesses.

AB 626 would authorize entrepreneurs who are home cooks to create certain products out of their personal kitchens. The vast majority of small business owners in the informal food economy are women, immigrants and people of color. Without the fear of fines, thousands of existing home cooks in California will be able to openly access business education and training on safe food handling practices.

FreeFrom's Online Compensation Tool Reaches 25,000 Users in 48 Hours

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Last month, FreeFrom launched our first-of-its-kind online self-help compensation tool in California. Designed in partnership with global software development company, ThoughtWorks, the tool provides survivors with the information and resources they need to pursue legal compensation for the harm they have suffered. 

Within 48 hours of launching, over 25,000 users logged on to the FreeFrom website to utilize the tool. This speaks to the huge need for information about compensation options for survivors.

Thank you so much to Refinery 29 and ABA Journal for covering the tool's launch. Click on the links below to read more.

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Stay tuned as we continue to test and expand the tool to other states in the coming months. Click below to explore and share the tool.

FreeFrom Hosts Made by a Survivor Valentine's Day Market

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This month, FreeFrom hosted our first ever "Made by a Survivor Valentine's Day Market" in Santa Monica, California. The farmer's market-style event highlighted products and businesses launched by clients in our Entrepreneurship Program, as well as survivor-entrepreneurs throughout Los Angeles. 

Our intergenerational event featured an organic lemonade & cupcake stand ran by two of our clients' daughters, who made a total of $78 each. One budding entrepreneur is investing her money in her own business.

With over 150 people in attendance, many of our entrepreneurs sold out of their stock! Thank you so much to everyone who attended. Stay tuned for the launch of FreeFrom's online store in April.

Support FreeFrom's Client as She Moves Out of Shelter and Into Her Own Home!

One of FreeFrom's clients, Diana, just moved out of the shelter she was living in for two years and into her own apartment with her two toddlers.

Diana started her handmade greeting card business using leftover arts and crafts materials in the shelter where she was living. In the past 8 months, she's gone on to sell out at every market she's participated in and her business keeps growing.
Please check out Diana's Amazon wish list and support her as she builds a safe and loving home for herself and her children.

Visit Diana's wishlist here. 

FreeFrom Joins Public Counsel, the LA Street Vendors Coalition and Other Non-Profits to Legalize Street Vending in Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of KCET

Photo courtesy of KCET

This month, FreeFrom signed on to a letter supporting efforts by both The LA Street Vendors Coalition and LA Public Counsel to legalize street vending throughout the city.

The majority of street vendors in Los Angeles are women, and legal permitting would decriminalize low-income community members, women entrepreneurs and single working parents who rely on their businesses as their primary source of income to support their families. 

FreeFrom Launches Groundbreaking Self-Help Tool Delivering Financial Justice to Survivors of Domestic Violence

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Today, FreeFrom launched our first-of-its-kind online self-help compensation tool. Designed in partnership with global software development company, ThoughtWorks, the tool will provide survivors with the information and resources they need to pursue legal compensation for the harm they have suffered. We will begin beta testing the tool in California before rolling it out nationally later this year. 

Domestic violence costs $8.2 billion annually in the US. Survivors overwhelmingly shoulder the entire burden of their survivorship—in the way of medical costs, property damage and relocation costs—with little to no accountability on the part of the abusers themselves. Domestic abuse costs an average of $52,000 in lost wages over an individual's lifetime. Medical expenses for physical assault cost roughly $4,273 per incident, and mental health costs for physical assault come to about $1,631 per incident. 

Survivors of abuse can qualify for compensation through four avenues – Small Claims Court, Criminal Restitution, Tort Litigation and Victims of Crime Funding. However, many do not pursue legal recourse due to a lack of knowledge about their options and how to utilize them.
Our tool seeks to eliminate this challenge by providing interactive, easy-to-understand information. Now, a survivor anywhere in the country, at any time of day, will be able to access the resources they need to pursue economic justice, regardless of their physical or financial limitations.

FreeFrom Hosts Valentine's Day Market in LA


Join FreeFrom as we host our first ever Made by a Survivor Valentine’s Day Market on Saturday, February 3rd at Mandala Yoga Center in Santa Monica, CA. 
Stop by to browse and purchase handcrafted gifts made by clients in FreeFrom’s small business entrepreneurship program. 100% of proceeds will go directly to survivor-entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Admission to the market is free. Please RSVP to attend.

FreeFrom's Big Win in LA's Small Claims Courts

Last year, FreeFrom called on the LA court system to make the small claims court experience safer for survivors. Many survivors do not pursue small claims against their abuser because they are unaware of it as an avenue to compensation. Those that do pursue small claims cases often face harassment and intimidation by their abuser during and after the hearing process, which can lead survivors to alter their testimonies and claims and not receive the full compensation that is due to them.
As FreeFrom works to increase awareness among survivors about their legal rights, we are also working to ensure that legal systems are sensitive to survivors’ needs. 

By unanimous agreement, all four courts have adopted FreeFrom’s suggested policies, including:

  • Allowing survivors to be separated from their abuser in the courtroom while they wait for their case to be called;
  • Allowing survivors to exchange evidence with the defendant through the bailiff rather than be required to speak with their abuser directly; and 
  • Holding defendants in the courtroom once the case is called so that survivors have ample time to safely leave the courthouse.

Thank you to the city of Los Angeles for helping survivors feel safer pursuing economic justice in small claims court.

FreeFrom Welcomes Credit Program Director, Merlin Salamanca


We are thrilled to welcome Merlin Salamanca to the FreeFrom team. As Credit Program Director, Merlin will be creating, developing and scaling FreeFrom's credit repair and credit building services for survivors.  

Merlin’s passion for spreading the message of financial literacy and protection among marginalized communities led her to receive a Master’s in Business Administration at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, where she focused on finance, marketing and organizational behavior. At Tepper, she was a Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) pre-MBA fellow, a Forté fellow, as well as a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) fellow. Upon graduation, she began a Financial Fitness Coaching certification through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).

Her family migrated to the U.S. when she was only 3 months old to escape the violence of El Salvador’s civil war. After years of observing many socioeconomic disparities in her community, Merlin used the tools available to her in order to create culturally competent tools for and promote financial stability in marginalized communities. She designed the QuinceDream app to provide Latino families with a way to budget and plan for Quinceañera celebrations while honoring the tradition.

As an undergrad at U.C. Berkeley, Merlin double majored in Ethnic Studies and Chicano/Latino and received a certificate from the Business for Arts, Engineering and Science (BASE) program at the Haas School of Business. After graduation, Merlin transitioned to Alameda Family Services (AFS), where she worked in various roles over 5 years, specifically for the Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) federal preschool program, serving mostly low-income immigrant families. Beginning as an Administrative Coordinator in the Finance department, Merlin eventually became Business Analyst where she was responsible for the management of a $3M federal grant. Upon identifying a need for financial literacy among clients, she initiated workshops to provide the community with a way toward financial stability.

Welcome, Merlin!

A 200% Return on Your Investment

"I am making more money than I have ever
made since arriving in the U.S."
Since joining FreeFrom’s entrepreneurship program, Maricela has made twice as much money than we invested in her. That’s a 200% return on your investment. Here is her story: 

"When I first started this program, I was very unsure of my future. I was depressed, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to survive as a single mom with two kids. Fast forward to today, 6 months later, I launched my cleaning business and I have increased my monthly income by 3 times!

It took me 4.5 months to figure out what business I was going to do but FreeFrom was so patient, so understanding, and let me explore so many different options. Now that I am focusing on this business, I know I can count on FreeFrom to help me get legal support for my business and help me continue to grow. FreeFrom will also be helping me create a co-op between other mothers who want to learn this business and want to share our growing clientele and expenses. I am so excited!

I have sales in my blood. Many of my family members in Mexico have their own stores and businesses, so this feels like it is my calling! I just needed a little help remembering that I have this strength and capacity running through my veins.

The most important lesson I have learned in all this is to believe in myself. Now I know that I am a great sales person, that my work is spectacular, and that people actually like my work. I feel so happy and proud. FreeFrom really encouraged me to learn English and even got me a tutor. Learning a new language was so hard, but because I speak English now, I have an easier time booking jobs and getting new clients.

This whole experience has taught me that positive things can come from negative and dark times. This has taught me that when I believe in myself and invest in myself, good things happen. I want to share this experience with other mothers like me and show them that they too can start businesses.

I am making more money than I have ever made since arriving in the US. And I’ve been here for almost a decade! Also, for the first time ever, I am saving! I am saving so much! I don’t know for what yet but I know FreeFrom will help me figure it out. I never thought this day would come and I never thought that my own work, skills, and passion would get me here. But here I am and I am happy and so, so proud."

Mari.E Housekeeping serves the San Francisco area. If you are interested in hiring Mari.E Housekeeping services, please contact Maricela by texting or calling (415) 637-9706 or emailing

Support Entrepreneurs Like Maricela

Thank you for making this work possible. Donate today to support survivor-entrepreneurs  like Maricela.

Click here to donate now

FreeFrom Wins the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge


Thanks to you, FreeFrom won the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge and the $100,000 prize!

We won by only $700 which means that every single donation mattered. We truly could not have done this without you and will work hard to make sure your hard-earned dollars go far to create spaces for economic and healing justice for survivors of domestic violence. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

FreeFrom's Self-Help Compensation Tool Launching in January 2018

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This year, FreeFrom partnered with global tech company, ThoughtWorks, to build our online self-help compensation tool. Through our tool, survivors across the nation will be able to learn how to pursue financial compensation for the harm they suffered, from victims of crime funding to small claims court to criminal restitution and tort law. 

It is incredibly expensive to be a survivor of domestic violence and survivors almost always have to carry the full burden of the cost of the harm committed against them. Our goal is that this groundbreaking tool empowers survivors to advocate for economic justice for themselves so that they can obtain compensation and move forward with their lives. 

Stay tuned for our California launch in January 2018.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Hosts FreeFrom Entrepreneurs at His Home

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Last Friday, clients in FreeFrom's Small Business Entrepreneurship Program participated in Engage LA: The Gift of Giving, a holiday market day hosted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland at their home.

The event was attended by over 350 people. Each of our clients exceeded their sales goals, and several sold out of their products! All of them left feeling excited and with a new sense of confidence. After Friday's success, we plan to have regular farmers' market events for our clients across California in 2018 so stay tuned.