Michelle Knight, one of the three Cleveland, Ohio, women held captive for more than a decade, received a $6,000 grant from a fund established this year by child safety advocate Marc Klaas.

Klaas, who runs the Sausalito-based KlaasKids Foundation, said Knight received the first grant from the Klaas Family Housing Fund, launched in January to help provide housing for families that have been victims of child abductions.

The grant will pay Knight's rent for an undisclosed period of time, Klaas said, declining to elaborate because of "privacy concerns" for Knight.

Knight, 32, and two other women were rescued in May from a Cleveland house where they were imprisoned, raped and abused. Their accused captor, Ariel Castro, 53, faces 977 criminal charges.

Klaas said his foundation chose to assist Knight because "she was the one without a family to go to." News accounts have said that Knight is estranged from her mother, Barbara Knight.

Klaas said the check was sent to Knight's landlord after arrangements were made through the woman's attorney.

In a hand-printed note, Knight said she was "honored and eternally grateful" for the grant, saying it "made it possible for me to stay at a home where I feel safe, secure and cared for."

"Thank you for helping me start my new life with peace," Knight wrote. "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.

"Life is tough, but I'm tougher!"

Knight, who vanished in 2002 at the age of 20, was the first of the three Cleveland women to be kidnapped. She was classified as a runaway, and her disappearance received little attention.

Castro is accused of starving and punching Knight until she miscarried five pregnancies.

Klaas acknowledged that Knight's situation does not exactly match the housing fund's goal.

"We were looking for an appropriate family," he said, noting the fund was not well enough known to attract requests for help.

The grant to Knight is "a good way of generating publicity" for the fund, he said.

Klaas started the fund along with Tracy McLaughlin, a Marin County real estate agent who is donating part of her sales commissions to the fund.

Klaas' daughter, Polly Klaas, was kidnapped from her Petaluma home and killed by Richard Allen Davis, a career criminal, in a 1993 case that led to California's adoption of the three strikes law.

Klaas, a Marin County resident, started the KlaasKids Foundation in 1994.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.