AFG member MISSSEY works to to provide services to commercially sexually exploited youth, and to work for systemic change with the youth they serve. AFG recently spoke to their Marketing & Operations Coordinator, Renee Smith, about what the organization has currently been working on. 

AFG: Could you provide an overview about your mission?

Renee: MISSSEY supports survivors and young people targeted by exploiters. We provide direct service programming, training, prevention, policy advocacy, and leadership pathways for the youth we serve within our community.

For more than 14 years, MISSSEY has provided healing and pathways out of exploitation for thousands of young people. People from across the country and around the world have recognized MISSSEY’s unique survivor-led model.

Through a set of distinctive, integrated strategies we work to create the conditions for healing, wellness, and self-determination for the young people we work with. We disrupt the cycle that leads to exploitation by providing young people with the support they need to leave, avoid, and stay out of exploitative circumstances. We help girls and gender expansive youth to imagine healthier, safer futures for themselves, support them in reflecting on and planning what it takes to get there, and then connect them to the opportunities to make safety and thriving real. We strengthen our communities by investing in field leaders most able to identify exploited youth and guide them to the appropriate resources. We provide models for building healthy relationships and self advocacy, tapping into ambition, and being accountable to self and others. Through building relationships with girls and gender expansive youth, we help them recognize and embrace their inherent value, leadership ability, and right to a full and fulfilling life.

  • Intensive Case Management: Providing survivor- and trauma-informed, culturally relevant, and strengths-based supports to create a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment.
  • STaR Center: Dedicated to being a safe space for commercially sexually exploited (CSE) girls, femme and non-binary youth ages 12 to 25 in Oakland.
  • Thrive Initiative: Our Thrive Initiative invests in young people through skill-building classes, workshops, and other leadership opportunities, so they can change their own lives.
  • Training Institute: Our Training Institute aims to cultivate communities that are compassionate, confident, and armed with the tools necessary to address the complex issues impacting victims and survivors of sexual violence.

AFG: Your work has never been more important than ever. What kind of organizations are you looking to partner with?

Renee: We are hoping to collaborate with organizations that provide housing, healthcare, social services, mental health and crisis intervention services, education and research/data-driven solutions to the young people we serve.

AFG: Is there anything else you would like to share and put on the table?

Renee: MISSSEY was founded 15 years ago and has grown and expanded its services over the years. We continue to work with young people to develop paths to thrive and have done so throughout the pandemic and in spite of the increasingly turbulent economic conditions in the Bay Area.

To get involved, please visit their website at misssey.org.