|Santa Barbara, CA — The Thriving Initiative, a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Santa Barbara, CA, provides accessible, long-term healing resources for survivors of interpersonal violence (sexual assault, stalking, dating and domestic violence). The organization was founded by three students during their time at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), who saw the need for action on campus. Now, The Thriving Initiative is becoming better known on campus, and demand for its programming is exponential, creating opportunities and challenges to scale up in order to serve the invisible survivor community.|
During their time at UCSB, three students saw an increasing gap between cases of interpersonal violence and long-term healing support for its survivors. The Thriving Initiative was founded with the goal of filling that gap. In 2019, the organization launched its flagship program, “Thriving, Not Just Surviving.” In February 2021, The Thriving Initiative received its 501(c)(3) status, initiating its first fundraising campaign soon after.
“Thriving, Not Just Surviving” is a free multi-week series that pairs workshops led by specialists with impactful self-care activities for its participants including yoga, gardening, dancing and more. Their goal is to create a supportive outlet and community for survivors of interpersonal violence. Unlike typical support groups, the workshop does not ask participants to share or discuss their past traumas but instead weaves unity and support through their respective healing journeys.
“It has helped me better recognize how much I need healing and how many endless ways there are to do that. It has helped me get back on the right path of healing,” said one participant of the workshop. In the first years of its operation, “Thriving, Not Just Surviving” served eight to ten student survivors each quarter. However, as the pandemic passed its one-year mark, isolation and anxiety symptoms reached new highs for survivors. The Thriving Initiative saw the direct impact of the current environment as more than 115 UCSB students applied for the program beginning in April. The increase in interest not only signified the pervasiveness of interpersonal violence on UCSB’s campus but also an expanding recognition that the program was helping survivors to heal.
Both of The Thriving Initiative’s programs, “Thriving, Not Just Surviving” and “Community Cultivations,” feature its sole mission: to inspire resilience in response to violence by promoting holistic community healing initiatives. While many support services focus on the immediate medical, legal, and emotional support that survivors of interpersonal violence seek after acts of violence, The Thriving Initiative focuses on addressing the life-long impacts of interpersonal violence.
“I have recognized my needs. I have seen the beauty of having such a space, and I believe everyone should have a healing space such as this in their life,” said another participant of “Thriving, Not Just Surviving.” Based on voluntary survey research before and after their programs, past participants reported an average 32.5% decrease in feelings of anxiety and 25% decrease in feelings of hypervigilance. Additionally, participants reported an average of 47.5% increase regarding their sense of belonging and an average of 27.5% increase in their ability to use coping strategies when triggers arise after completing their program.
The Thriving Initiative has been overjoyed to see the impact the program has had on participants, yet saddened that the need appears to be so vast. Currently, the organization is working diligently to raise funds to serve ten times more participants than ever before—a number that will very likely grow from here. Within the next year, The Thriving Initiative is already planning to roll out their programming at two to four more chapters at other universities to meet their students’ needs.
Three years ago, three women spoke up, and a crowd of historically voiceless people roared in response. In a short period of time, The Thriving Initiative has proved itself to be vital to a community much larger than it should be.
To meet the growing demands of The Thriving Initiative, contact:
Samantha Cheney, Associate Director of Development
Office Phone: (805) 330-1923