MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth) is a community-based organization founded in 2007 by survivors and allies who came together in response to the epidemic of commercial sexual exploitation in Oakland, California.
They were determined to create a different world for at-risk and sexually exploited youth, one in which they can lead liberated, self-determined, and joyful lives free from victimization and violence. Since then, MISSSEY has offered a safe space, fostered healthy relationships, and facilitated the inner transformation of countless girls and young women ages 12-24 impacted by exploitation.
The majority of MISSSEY program participants have histories of physical and sexual abuse. Many are parenting a child, lack dignified employment opportunities, and are disproportionately girls and young women of color.
Due to early and recent experiences of trauma, these young people often struggle with the communication, concentration, and memory skills required to navigate typical learning environments which, in turn, creates barriers to training, employment, independence, and financial security.
MISSSEY responds to these challenges with a wraparound service model that utilizes a survivor-centered, trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and culturally relevant approach.
Their program includes a daily drop-in center, intensive life coaching and career-readiness, advocacy, and prevention education. They see their work with youth and young adults as a partnership, helping them transition from victim to survivor to leader, and focus strategically on preparing them for careers of their choosing.
MISSSEY’s intensive life coaching and case management programs assist with overall stability, including support for basic needs, referrals, safe housing, court advocacy and more.
Each youth has a customized case plan that incorporates and tracks their goals and achievements. MISSSEY also works to address systemic barriers in the local community through prevention education, professional training, and advocacy initiatives.
Staff provide prevention and intervention services to the Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County Social Services Administration, the City of Oakland, Contra Costa Employment and Human Services as well as training and technical assistance to child welfare workers, law enforcement, group home providers, foster parents, and countless other organizations that serve youth and families.
Through strategic funding support provided by The Jensen Project, MISSSEY will expand and strengthen its Thrive Initiative with three unique branches, each focused on career-readiness through the development of technical and soft skills, self-regulation, positive work ethic, and leadership.
Youth leaders will be engaged in a unique advocacy training program where they learn to become experts in advocacy, education, and research. They will design and implement a community action project, make presentations to local decision makers and youth serving organizations, and learn the ropes of taking action to create meaningful change.
Additionally, a Career Readiness Specialist will support up to 100 young adult survivors in a structured, six-week training program to prepare them for employment, followed by strategic job placement.
Lastly, MISSSEY will provide 18-month paid internships to selected survivor leaders ages 18-26 whose dream is to work in the victim services and survivor empowerment field. The Jensen Project is thrilled to support MISSSEY and the Thrive Program, creating pathways to employment and futures free from exploitation.
A yearly grant program, funding up to $2 Million to advance economic empowerment and housing opportunities for agencies who serve adult female survivors of human trafficking.