Thanks to a generous contribution from nursing job board NurseRecruiter, last month we awarded our first ever nursing scholarship to a promising future nurse who was raised in a cult that routinely violated the basic human rights of children. 

The recipient of the scholarship, who has requested to remain anonymous, impressed us with her incredible accomplishments, resilience and unwavering commitment despite the many obstacles she faced. Here is part of her story from her application:

I left the cult in 2010. I didn’t know how to drive. I only had a GED. I couldn’t read fluently till I was 18 years old and could hardly read at all by the age of 12, those in the cult told me it was okay because I was dyslexic. I struggled for the last 8 years to get my associates (I graduated with honors, and currently hold a 3.68 GPA), get my drivers license, build new good friendships and learn to trust people again. I’m now 30. But I’ve struggled quite a lot financially through nursing school. I’m alone. I only have one relative who lives in the US and they live in a different city than me. During this Christmas vacation while my classmates are getting manicures and pedicures and relaxing before the next big semester and state boards, I’m literally picking up 14 hour shifts over my winter break hoping to make enough so that hopefully I won’t have to work too many days during the last semester of nursing, because all my instructors and classmates are telling me that the last semester it is too hard to work during this portion and then the preceptorship. But I have no choice. I picked up 85 hours of work over the next fifteen days even though all I need is a good night sleep and a vacation. And I applied for 51 scholarships, I haven’t heard back from anyone. My car is too old to make the trip to Phoenix to see my sister so she is going to drive down here and pick me up so I can have a few days of Christmas at least. I know all this will be over soon. I’ll graduate in May, pass the NCLEX in July and be working at a nice hospital by August, but I am so desperate now and overwhelmed by my need for help.

This promising future nurse received a $1000 nursing scholarship funded by NurseRecruiter and an additional $500 scholarship grant from the Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship program. We are delighted to have been able to make a small contribution to help her become a nurse and we hope that she is the first of many future nurses we are able to help.

If you or or someone you know was raised in a cult and wants to become a nurse, please let them know about our nursing scholarship.  

We started the year with a plan to revive Safe Passage Foundation and so far we’ve made significant progress. In May and June, director Steven Levithan, former director Juliana Buhring and many others launched Facebook fundraising campaigns that raised over $7800 for Safe Passage Foundation.  So far this year we have raised about $21,496 which is a significant increase over the $2820 we raised the previous year.

In August, a generous donor made a $10,000 donation dedicated to our scholarship program in memory of Safe Passage Foundation founder Julia McNeil. Thanks to our generous supporters, this year we have been able to disburse 21 Emergency Aid Fund grants totaling over $8100.   Nearly all our Emergency Aid Fund grants this year were disbursed to provide food and shelter to adults born or raised in cults as well as to children of those raised in cults. It is heartbreaking how close to being homeless many of us are but we are happy that we were able to prevent it in a few cases.

I would literally be without a home without you guys, [I] can’t thank y’all enough.  Thanks very much SPF for having made sure I had a house and food these last months.   – Message from an SPF client. November 3, 2018.

We were also able to revive the scholarship program.  In August, we disbursed 11 $500 scholarship grants and we plan to disburse more next semester.    We have yet to receive any applicants for our nursing scholarship funded by NurseRecruiter.  If you know someone raised in a cult who wants to become a nurse, please let them know about our nursing scholarship.

How You Can Help

None of our success this year would have been possible without help from our donors, volunteers and supporters who have been very generous with their time and money.  To keep the momentum going we need your help.  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us and check back for more specific volunteer opportunities we’ll post here and elsewhere.

If you are interested in fundraising, one of the best ways you can help is to start a Facebook fundraiser benefitting Safe Passage Foundation.  If you need ideas, here are some previous successful Facebook fundraisers:

Here our latest financial reports.  As is evident, we now run a very lean and efficient operation but we are absolutely committed to making it even more efficient.  Our company sponsor, MadLab LLC (founded by directors Robert Gentel and Peter Frouman) funds all the operational costs so other donors can rest assured that 100% of their donations will go directly to providing scholarships, emergency aid and other assistance to people raised in cults.

Over the past 4 years (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2018), Safe Passage Foundation has disbursed 28 college scholarship grants totaling $14,015 and 24 emergency aid grants totaling $13,128. During that period, Safe Passage Foundation received $35,597 in donations from over 40 donors and donations from current and former directors totaled nearly 50% of total donations.

Our operating expenses have averaged about $172 per month and about 23% of donations received. While the percentage of donations spent on operating expenses may seem high, we expect it to decrease significantly as donations increase and we are committed to reducing overhead and maximizing operational efficiency. Our corporate sponsor, MadLab LLC (founded by director Robert Gentel), has pledged to cover all operating expenses so other donors can be assured that 100% of their donations will go directly to providing resources and support to those raised in cults.

During the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2018, Safe Passage Foundation was mostly inactive and did not disburse any grants. As the fiscal year ended, we started working on reviving Safe Passage Foundation and during the current fiscal year (which began April 1, 2018), have disbursed $975 in emergency aid grants.

Have a look at our books, below you will find the yearly report for the fiscal year ending March 31 as well as the monthly reports for April and May since. Going forward we will continue to publish our books regularly.

SPF Annual Financial Report March 31, 2018

SPF Monthly Financial Report, April, May 2018

Many have asked about a brochure that they can use to tell others about the work that Safe Passage Foundation does and we are happy to announce that we got an updated brochure designed and it is is now available to anyone who wants to share a condensed version of who we are, what we do and how to get involved! Feel free to pass it along to friends, family or whoever you think might be interested.

Today we are happy to announce that Anna Carpenter and Whisper Wind have joined the Safe Passage Foundation team of volunteers!

Anna will is starting by developing a network of support resources that will be launching soon for people who are leaving or have left cults, to provide them with a safety net and help navigating life outside the cult. Whisper Wind has volunteered to lead our peer-to-peer support, serving as a point person for triaging support requests and organizing the delivery of emergency aid.

Our team of volunteers do everything in their spare time, and we can use your help too! Contact us if you have time to volunteer!

Many have asked for more visibility into the work Safe Passage Foundation does and the people SPF has helped, which is a fair question when we are asking you for your donations, so when we are able we will make our work public and today we are sharing a thank you note from Rob McClelland, 42, who SPF was able to help through our Emergency Aid Fund.

“I would like to thank Safe Passage Foundation for their generosity. Sometime ago I broke my foot in several places and was unable to work. I did not have enough money to pay the doctor bills along with rent. Safe Passage Foundation gave me financial support which helped me make it through this difficult time when I was unable to help myself. Their work is very important in helping people feel and know there are others that care in time of need.”

If you can, please consider donating to our emergency aid fund, 100% of which goes directly to people who need our support with no operating costs or overhead. Our sponsors cover all our operating costs so every cent you can donate goes right to the people who need it.

Do you want to be a nurse or do you know someone who wants to be a nurse or continue their nursing education? If so, you’ll want to know all about our new scholarship for nursing majors.

Today, we are proud to announce that (founded by SPF director Robert Gentel) has committed $1000/year to help fund a new Safe Passage Foundation scholarship grant for nursing majors.

To apply for the nursing scholarship, please visit the Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship page and press the Apply button. The eligibility requirements for the nursing scholarship are the same as those for our other scholarships with the additional requirement of being enrolled in or admitted to a nursing degree program.  We will also consider applicants enrolled in a pre-nursing program if they can demonstrate that they are committed to enrolling in nursing school and becoming a nurse.  If you wish to apply as a pre-nursing student, please complete the application and then use our contact form to send us a brief personal statement about your plans to become a nurse and enroll in nursing school.

When approaching prospective donors it is not enough that your organization has good intentions, good people and good plans. You are supposed to! It needs a proven track record of being able to accomplish its plans, a proven track record of being able to execute. The Safe Passage Foundation has been able to do important and valuable work with its scholarship and emergency aid fund when it has had the resources but there are certain economies of scale that are needed to sustain this, and in the last year Safe Passage Foundation was only able to raise roughly $1500, which is just not enough to make a meaningful difference. I have been appointed as SPF Coordinator till the end of the year to try to change this and to reinvigorate SPF and its important work for our community.

Here is my plan on how we are going to do this together:

First of all, it is important to recognize that the main reason that we haven’t been able to do more is that there is only so much that a handful of people (last year it was the bare minimum of 3 people needed to keep the organization alive) can do alone, volunteering in their spare time. And even with the unacceptable level of activity SPF has had, there really isn’t any other greater effort around for our peers, which is behind my personal decision to rally behind it for all the projects I work on. A critical part of this plan will be the organization’s ability to attract others to collaborate together on shared goals so that we can work together to get projects off the ground that we haven’t yet been able to do individually.

The Safe Passage Foundation is actively working on growing our team of volunteers and have the following people to announce who will be joining us, with more to be announced in the very near future. Today we can announce that Steven Levithan and Mariana Mari, both trusted members of our community with a known history of sharing our goals, are joining the SPF board. The SPF Board will vote periodically on SPF leadership and structure, and is also to approve any significant changes to spending resource allocation. It will consist of:

  • Peter Frouman
  • Sarafina Gill
  • Robert Gentel
  • Mariana Mari
  • Steven Levithan

We are also happy to announce that Natacha Tormey has volunteered to help with project coordination and Sharon Borjas with our blog and social media accounts. Many others have approached us to help and we expect to be able to announce new team members in the next days. Here is our organization so far:

Areas of Responsibility

SPF Coordinator: Robert Gentel

  • Setting goals and priorities
  • Messaging and direction
  • Project Coordinator: Natacha Tormey

Administration: Peter Frouman

  • Organization administration
  • Finances
  • Fund Disbursements
  • Websites/Server Administration

Support:  Sarafina Gill

  • Emergency Aid
  • Support Network

Outreach: Mariana Mari

  • Communication
  • PR/Media: Natacha Tormey
  • Blogs and Social Media: Sharon Borjas
  • Fundraising

I also think it is important to set goals and try to commit to them. It puts our reputations on the line and commits us to executing on them. My personal goal is to 10x SPF this year. That is, I am committing to doing whatever it takes to help SPF raise ten times the amount it did last year, meaning we have an initial goal of $15,000 that we will be raising by the end of the year and here are some specifics about how we are going to do this:

  1. We are going to commit to ruthless efficiency. This is something SPF has always done, with very minimal operating costs that mainly consist of bank fees and a handful of online services like hosting. But we don’t want anyone to donate $25 and have it go toward hosting fees so we are committing to having every cent we receive from public donations go toward our core funds. To achieve this, (a company founded by SPF director Robert Gentel) has agreed to sponsor SPF to help cover the current operating costs of the foundation and to provide various technical and marketing services. We are also working on cutting operational overhead costs to the bare minimum, making sure that the board is required to vote on any future significant cost increases and creating an organizational culture that embraces frugality as a core principle.
  2. We are going to commit to ruthless transparency. This too is something SPF has always wanted and because we have repeatedly heard from the community that they would like more insight into the work that SPF does we are going to commit to it as not just a “nice to have” but as a “must have”. SPF’s financial year starts in a few days (April) so there is no better time to start than now. From now on SPF books will public and will be published monthly on our blog. We will also redouble our efforts to communicate about the work that we do and who is involved in it. Many have told us that if they had just known more they would have contributed, and we have taken this to heart and some of the new team members who have volunteered will be dedicated toward doing so.

We are moving very fast and will have more to announce in the next few days, including more about our core projects that we are starting this year and the people who will lead them. We can’t do this without you, so please help however you can whether that is through donations, volunteering your time, and helping to get out the word. We will post weekly updates about where we are in our fundraising and our projects so stay tuned.

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to everyone who organized and attended the special charity dinner event tonight at Il San Pietro Di Positano.  Thanks to your generous support, we raised over $10,000 for Safe Passage Foundation which will enable us to greatly expand the Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship program and replenish the Safe Passage Foundation Emergency Aid Fund.

Special thanks to:



Safe Passage Foundation is expanding its college scholarship program
Safe Passage Foundation is expanding its college scholarship program

This month, Safe Passage Foundation will be awarding 10 $500 college scholarship grants to individuals born and/or raised in cults. In January 2014, we also awarded 3 $500 scholarship grants. The 13 $500 grants SPF will award in 2014 is more than triple the originally planned amount of 4 $500 grants.

Do you know someone born and/or raised in a cult who could use some help paying for college? If so, please encourage them to apply for a Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship grant from Safe Passage Foundation.

If you would like to help expand the scholarship program and enable SPF to award even more scholarship grants in 2015, please consider donating to Safe Passage Foundation. We accept donations by credit card, check and Paypal and we even accept Bitcoin.