At Thorn we work fast, building the best products we can to change the way we defend children from sexual abuse. When we have an idea that could transform the way we work we don’t shy away just because it hasn’t been done before. Thankfully neither does Google.

We believe that children trapped in sexual exploitation deserve a dedicated team of the best and brightest working to find them. To date, we’ve been able to help over 8,000 officers find child sex trafficking victims faster than ever before. In the past three years we’ve identified an average of 8 kids per day, almost 10,000 children, and another 20,000 young adults.

Every ad in which a child is sold is a clue to who they are, where they are, and how law enforcement can reach them. But all that data takes time to dig through, and as a tech organization with a non-profit funding model, we can’t hire for every role we know could have an impact, we have to hire for the most impactful roles (and we are hiring for 10 positions right now).

That’s where our partners come in.

Google.org was an early supporter of our work, believing in the potential of our team and our vision before we had any proof to back it up. Over the past four years Google has invested over $2.5M in grant funding. In 2018, we worked with the Google.org team to think about ways we could do even more together. In the spring, we were at Google HQ in Mountain View sharing our joint vision with Googlers. By summer, we’d ironed out the details for Thorn and Google to pilot the Google.org Fellowship, bringing 5 full time Google engineers onto our team for the next six months.

The Fellows were able to dive into our millions of pieces of data, and approach it differently. Their insights will help move our products forward. Using AI, they were able to build connections in our data, and visualize them clearly.

Our Fellows got to learn new technologies, work in a highly cross functional team, deepen their knowledge of an issue that mattered to them, and learn what an incredible impact they can have with their day-job skills. Not everyone can do this work as their full-time job, but we believe everyone can contribute, for a weekend at a hackathon, 6 months as a Fellow, or years as an employee.

This program is a first of its kind – but it shouldn’t be the last. It’s not a surprise to see Google.org leading the way for innovative partnerships, bringing the Fellowship program to more of their grantees. This model doesn’t have to stop at Google. It can be applied to any nonprofit who has clearly articulated business objectives that can be advanced by an infusion of technology, and by any company who is looking to engage their employees in unique and meaningful skill development opportunities.

We hear all the time, “that can’t be done.” People said that to us about this partnership model, people will always say that. We choose to push forward anyway. We choose to do what we believe needs to be done, because if not us, who?  And if not now, when? We won’t stop, until every child has the right to be safe, curious, and happy.


Is your company interested in sponsoring Thorn fellows? Reach out to us here – we’d love to hear from you!