August 26th is Women's Equality Day in the United States. This year, support an anti-trafficking organization founded by a brave and dynamic woman.
Founded in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota was the very first statewide women’s foundation in the country. Today, the Foundation remains the only statewide community foundation dedicated exclusively to achieving economic, political and social equality for all women and girls through grantmaking, fundraising, research and public policy. As a bold voice for our statewide grantees and their causes, the Women’s Foundation is a key partner working with grantees, donors and communities to create a dynamic landscape of equality and justice for all Minnesotans.
Our work to advance women’s safety and security is the largest area of annual grant requests, which informed our growing concern about the prostitution of Minnesota girls. State nonprofit partners and law enforcement confirmed that the buying and selling of underage girls for sex is a reality in Minnesota and on the rise.
So in early 2010, we took action on this concern by partnering with the Women’s Funding Network in the national roll-out of “A Future, Not a Past,” a program modeled on Georgia’s successful campaign to stop the prostitution of girls in that state. Minnesota is one of several states implementing this model that will yield national strategies to end domestic minor sex trafficking.
The Foundation built this program on our ethos of listening and responding to community concerns. We know that problems and solutions are found in the same place, and to create a statewide solution, you need statewide partners. In July 2010, we convened over 85 stakeholders—donors, elected officials, state agencies, advocates, corporations, law enforcement, judges, faith communities, and many others—from across the state to create a strategic plan for Minnesota with a clear message that Minnesota girls are not for sale.
With community support, that plan is becoming a reality. We have partnered with leaders of the community representing key stakeholder groups that have expertise on the sex trafficking of girls and have established steering committees of stake holders that includes advocates, business leaders, elected officials, researchers, donors, and the faith community. More than 50 individuals representing these communities continue to be involved as key leaders on grantmaking, fundraising and public education committees. From this early work the Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved a five-year, $5 million campaign to galvanize the resources to end the sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota.
Together, our collective contributions are eliminating barriers and building pathways to prosperity and equality for all of the state’s women and girls. We know that when you build those pathways for women and girls, the benefits are felt by everyone – children, families, and communities.