MN Girls Are Not For Sale | WFMN
Safety & Leadership

MN Girls Are Not For Sale

A Strategic Campaign to Combat Sex Trafficking

In 2010, we convened more than 100 leaders from all over Minnesota and created a strategic, multi-sector plan to combat child sex trafficking. MN Girls Are Not For Sale, our eight year, $7.5 million campaign, launched in November 2011 to end sex trafficking in Minnesota through grantmaking, research, public education, and policy change.

Super Bowl LII – February 4, 2018

What You Should Know About Sex Trafficking During the Super Bowl

As hosts of Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on February 4, 2018, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and our partners in advocacy, law enforcement, and the business community statewide welcomed the opportunity to champion our nationally recognized statewide response to end sex trafficking.

We know—from the research we commissioned—that while the Super Bowl may temporarily increase the likelihood for trafficking in a host city, the event is no different than other large public events.

Knowing the facts, being aware of the signs and making sure that everyone during this big event is safe is a great way to fight trafficking. Together, we remain focused on ending sexual exploitation in Minnesota 365 days a year.

MNGirls NFL Infographic
Spot The Signs Tip Sheet Cover

Download this tip sheet so you can spot the signs of sex trafficking.

  • Working Together

    Working Together: Anti-Sex Trafficking Committee

    As co-chairs of Minnesota’s 2018 Super Bowl Anti-Sex Trafficking Committee, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County led the statewide effort to confront this daily reality and increase awareness of the issue. Together, we are shaping a solution with more than 40 organizations, including advocates, victim/survivor service providers, law enforcement agencies, businesses, cities, counties, and victims/survivors.

    Our goal is to use this extra attention to:
    • Offer enhanced services (additional shelter beds, expanded drop-in center services and staffing) for sex trafficking victims in Minnesota.
    • Train hotel and transportation workers in identifying the signs of sex trafficking.
    • Conduct a public education campaign to build awareness and create new allies.
    • Develop a replicable model to use during future large events in this community and to share with other cities.

    Thank you to our corporate and foundation partners!

    NFL Foundation LogoCarlson Family Foundation LogoClear Channel LogoVerizon Logo
    Vikings LogoBest Buy LogoTarget LogoMayo Clinic Logo
    United Way LogoMedtronic LogoHolmes CSM Family FoundationMidwest Sign Logo
    Delta LogoFBD LogoIATL LogoBlattner Energy Logo
    Culp Family Foundation

    We are grateful to the organizations who serve youth and adults victimized by sexual exploitation and trafficking before, during, and beyond the Super Bowl.

    Oasis LogoFamily Partnership LogoThe Link LogoStreet Works Logo
    Breaking Free LogoCorner Stone LogoMIWRC LogoSource Logo
    Youth Link Logo

  • About the Campaign

    About the Campaign

    Why We Launched MN Girls Are Not For Sale

    Since our founding in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has served as a catalyst for social change to achieve equity for all women and girls. Our work to advance safety and security and stories from our grantee-partners and colleagues in the state’s criminal justice system informed our growing concern about the sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota.

    We quickly learned that sex trafficking is both complex and systemic, its causes deeply rooted in gender and economic inequity, while its effects and opportunities for prevention exist within a complex, cross-sector field of public agencies, businesses, nonprofit service providers, and the public. Using a collective impact framework – which assumes that no one sector can single-handedly move the dial alone on complex, systemic social and economic issues – we exercised our positional leadership as a statewide community foundation with statewide reach to identify key stakeholders and convene the field.

    In 2010, we convened over 100 leaders from all over Minnesota – donors, elected officials, state agencies, philanthropies, advocates, corporations, law enforcement, judges, faith communities, and many others – and created a strategic, multi-sector plan to combat child sex trafficking.

    This plan resulted in MN Girls Are Not For Sale, our five year, $5 million campaign launched in November 2011 to galvanize resources to end the sex trafficking of Minnesota girls and boys through grantmaking, research, public education, and convening.

    What We Hoped to Achieve

    Phase 1 of MN Girls had three goals:
    1. Redefine sex-trafficked minors as victims of a crime, and ensure access to specialized housing and treatment.
    2. Decrease demand for child sex trafficking through effective law enforcement and policies.
    3. Educate and mobilize public support and activism to end child sex trafficking.

    As of April 2016, the MN Girls campaign fully achieved Goal 1, produced original research that began to address the demand side of the issue (Goal 2), and engaged and mobilized the public to end child sex trafficking (Goal 3).

    We Drove a Sea Change in Less Than Five Years

    The success of the MN Girls campaign and critical impact it has had on the work to end child sex trafficking is undeniable. With cross-sector leaders, the Women’s Foundation invested over $6 million and drove a sea change in our communities’ response to this unconscionable and haunting violence against children.

    Key MN Girls Successes:
    1. Went from zero state funding in 2011 to a state-funded infrastructure of $13.1 million (May 2017). Minnesota is first in the nation to provide state funding for sex trafficking victims.
    2. Increased housing and trauma-informed care for victims, from two beds in 2011 to 48 beds (May 2017).
    3. Outreach to Minnesota’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. resulted in federal sex trafficking legislation (2015), modeled after Minnesota’s Safe Harbor law.

    What’s Next?

    In January 2015, as a result of our Phase 1 (April 1, 2011-March 31, 2016) success and community demand for continued progress on this issue, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, extended MN Girls to a second phase (through March 2019), based on stakeholder input and calls from the community for the Foundation’s continued leadership.

    MN Girls (Phase 2) Goals:
    1. Reduce demand for sex trafficking.
    2. Create prevention strategies to reduce vulnerability to sex trafficking.
    3. Increase visibility, outreach and services to targeted, underserved communities.
    4. Build systems and infrastructure to sustain movement to end sex trafficking.

  • Successes


    We Have Driven a Sea Change

    The success of the MN Girls campaign and critical impact it has had on the work to end sex trafficking is undeniable. With cross-sector leaders, the Women’s Foundation has invested $6 million in the last six years (2011-2017) and driven a sea change in our communities’ response to this unconscionable crime.

    As a result of efforts funded through our Minnesota Girls Are Not for Sale campaign, we were the first state in the nation to create and fund a statewide comprehensive plan—$13.1 million to date—to end sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

    Passage of Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Law

    Passage of Safe Harbor changed state laws to ensure that children under 18 years of age who are sold for sex are no longer criminalized, but treated as victims of a crime in need of safe housing and specialized services. In May 2016, we increased the age of Safe Harbor eligibility from 18 to 24.

    We paid the $12,000 fiscal note (July 2011) that enabled the passage of Minnesota’s Safe Harbor. At that time, tight public budgets and a fiscally conservative state Legislature would have rejected any bill with a price tag. Our quick action to pay the appropriation and active lobbying were critical factors in the Safe Harbor’s passage.

    Crafted Minnesota’s No Wrong Door Model

    We helped to create a comprehensive statewide response in the No Wrong Door model, which went into effect in August 2014.

    No Wrong Door has resulted in the following outcomes:
    • Increased housing and trauma-informed care for victims, from two beds in 2011 to 48 beds today (May 2016).
    • Established a statewide director of child sex trafficking prevention at the MN Dept. of Health; eight regional navigator positions to connect trafficked children with the shelter, support, and services they need; and a training fund for law enforcement and prosecutors.
    • Issued state grants to select nonprofits for housing and trauma-informed care for child sex-trafficking victims across Minnesota.

    We went from zero state funding in 2011 to a state-funded infrastructure of $13.1 million, as of May 2017. Minnesota is the first state in the nation to provide state funding for sex-trafficking victims.

    In May 2017, an investment of $73,000 and a legislative mandate to complete Safe Harbor for All strategic planning was passed, which will develop Minnesota’s new response for adult victims of sex trafficking.

    In April 2013, we offered the State of Minnesota a matching grant of $1 million in a public-private partnership if it provided a minimum of $7 million of the requested $13.3 million to fully fund the Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door model. While the state rejected our offer, our leadership resulted in a critical first-time state investment in May 2013.

    Developed Model Protocols to Improve Statewide Systemic Response

    In May 2016, we passed an additional $800,000 to support police investigations and a policy provision to increase penalties for perpetrators apprehended during the course of undercover operations is now included in the Safe Harbor law.

    Since 2013, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office (MN Girls grantee-partner) has trained nearly 2,000 law enforcement officers on protocols it developed with statewide partners about child sex trafficking and how to proceed in a victim-centered approach.

    Production of roll-call videos, resource guides, multidisciplinary conferences, and other trainings for patrol and other frontline officers.

    Increased Sex Trafficking Charges and Convictions in Minnesota

    Convictions of sex trafficking perpetrators nearly tripled through increased law enforcement investigations and prosecutions.

    Between 2010 and 2013, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office (MN Girls grantee-partner) reports that charges and convictions against sex traffickers in Minnesota increased by 76 percent — from 17 in 2010 to 72 in 2013.

    Inspired and Advocated for Federal Legislation Modeled on Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Law

    Our direct outreach to educate, update and engage Minnesota’s Congressional delegation through multiple meetings in Washington, D.C. (2012, 2013) resulted in federal child sex trafficking legislation — Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 178) — modeled in part on Minnesota’s Safe Harbor. The Act was passed by the U.S. House and Senate in January and May 2015, respectively.

    Published Groundbreaking Research on Child Sex Trafficking

    We funded Mapping the Market for Sex with Trafficked Minor Girls in Minneapolis: Structures, Functions, and Patterns, a first-of-its-kind research and approach to understanding how the overall market for juvenile sex trafficking manifests within communities in one city, Minneapolis.

    Dr. Lauren Martin, lead researcher on Mapping the Market for Sex with Trafficked Minor Girls in Minneapolis: Structures, Functions, and Patterns (released in 2014), conducted new research commissioned and funded by the Foundation. The new research, released in 2017, Mapping the Demand: Sex Buyers in Minnesota, revealed an in-depth look at the purchasers of sex with children in Minnesota.

    Elicited Public Support & Engagement to End Child Sex Trafficking

    Early findings from Mapping the Demand: Sex Buyers in Minnesota, the research mentioned above, reveals the surge in media coverage after the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign began in 2011 and the Minnesota Legislature passed the state’s Safe Harbor legislation, which reclassified sex-trafficked minors as crime victims in need of protection

    UROC’s research findings also reveal a significant shift in language used in media coverage once the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign was launched and Safe Harbor was passed. The public awareness and education campaign has changed the narrative and driven a sea change in how media partners and the general public frame the issue. Media coverage began referring to the crime as “sex trafficking” rather than “prostitution,” and public perception has shifted to viewing children and adults caught in the web of sex trafficking as victims, rather than criminals.

  • Grantmaking


    The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota built the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign 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, we look to the strengths that already exist in our Minnesota community. Our goal is to inspire and strengthen the potential in our communities, and one important way to do this is through grantmaking.

    As part of MN Girls Are Not For Sale, the Women’s Foundation awards grants to nonprofits for programs that will produce the necessary changes in attitudes and behaviors and shifts in institutions and policies to insure that Minnesota girls are not for sale.

    In the last six years, we have made grants to change state laws to recognize youth who’ve been sex trafficked are victims of a crime, not the criminals; ensure that advocates can create and sustain holistic shelters for survivors with trauma-based services; develop a statewide county team/multi-jurisdictional strategy for intervention; include the support of training youth outreach service professionals; and education for youth about sex trafficking prevention.

    Who have we funded?

    2017 grantee-partners ›
    2016 grantee-partners ›
    2015 grantee-partners ›
    2014 grantee-partners ›
    2013 grantee-partners ›
    2012 grantee-partners ›

  • Research & Evaluation

    Research & Evaluation

    Super Bowl Report

    View the report Minnesota’s Coordinated Strategy to Prevent & Disrupt Sex Trafficking Super Bowl LII and Beyond


    As is true for any hidden illegal activity, determining the number of individuals being sex trafficked in Minnesota is incredibly difficult. But a growing body of research provides a critical, early sketch of what’s happening in our state.

    Mapping the Demand: Sex Buyers in Minnesota” is the second in a series of research reports commissioned and funded by the Foundation and produced by the University of Minnesota. Released in August 2017, the research focuses on the buyers who drive the market for sex trafficking: who they are, how they enter the market, and their relationship to sex trafficking operations. The research can be used to shape early prevention and intervention activities and support current law enforcement practices in combating sex trafficking. (August 2017)

    View/download full report and executive summary ›
    Read Star Tribune article ›
    Read MinnPost article ›

    Workplace Perspectives on Erotic Dancing: A Brief Report on Community-Based Research with Entertainers in Minneapolis Strip Clubs” documents the workplace experiences of entertainers within strip clubs in Minneapolis from a lens of workplace health and safety and improving working conditions. The report was commissioned on behalf of the City of Minneapolis and will guide their related policy recommendations. (March 2017)

    Read Star Tribune article ›

    Mapping the Market for Sex with Trafficked Minor Girls in Minneapolis: Structure, Functions, and Patterns” is a first-of-its-kind approach to understanding how the overall market for juvenile sex trafficking manifests within communities in one city. Research focused on Minneapolis, though the findings have implications for other cities and regions. (September 2014)

    Read press release ›
    Listen to MPR’s The Daily Circuit interview (9/15) ›
    Read Star Tribune article ›

    Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesotac,” Melissa Farley, Nicole Matthews, Sarah Deer, Guadalupe Lopez, Christine Stark and Eileen Hudon, a project of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition and Prostitution Research & Education, October 2011.

    Read the article by Sarah Deer ›

    The prostitution project: Community-based research on sex trading in north Minneapolis.” Lauren Martin, PhD. CURA Reporter, Fall-Winter 2010.

    Adolescent Girls in the Minnesota Sex Trade – From February to November 2010, The Schapiro Group conducted studies to quantify the scope of the commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution/sex trafficking) of adolescent females in Minnesota. There were a total of four counts – Feb., May, Aug., and Nov. 2010.

    • The study was designed to count adolescent girls using scientific probability methods when they were encountered through two sources: Internet and escort services.
    • This research methodology counted, over a one-month period during four different months in 2010 (Feb., May, Aug., and Nov. 2010), the number of adolescent females who were sexually exploited and actively marketed within the local sex trade.
    • The results from the final Shapiro count in November 2010 study showed that on any given weekend night in Minnesota, an estimated 45 girls under age 18 were sexually trafficked (prostituted) via Internet classified websites and escort services.

    Shattered Hearts: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of American Indian Women And Girls,” Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, November 2009.

    National Reports on Sex Trafficking

    National Colloquium 2012 Final Report: An Inventory and Evaluation of the Current Shelter and Services Response to Domestic Minor Sex TraffickingShared Hope International, May 2013. Executive Summary.

    Enslaved in America: Sex Trafficking in the United States,” Tina Frundt, Women’s Funding Network.

    Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex: ‘You can have a good time with the servitude’ vs. ‘You’re supporting a system of degradation,” Melissa Farley, Emily Schuckman, Jacqueline M. Golding, Kristen Houser, Laura Jarrett, Peter Qualliotine, Michele Decker. Paper presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting, July 15, 2011, Boston.

    Trafficked Teen Girls Describe Life in the Game,” National Public Radio, Youth Radio, December 6, 2010.

    Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010,” Duren Banks and Tracey Kyckelhahn, U.S. Department of Justice

    Trafficking in Persons: The U.S. and International Response,” Francis T. Miko, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, July 2006.


    Girls Like Us,” Rachel Lloyd, 2011

    Somebody’s Daughter: The Hidden Story of America’s Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them,” Julian Sher, 2011

    Media Inquiries

    All media inquiries regarding the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign and the Foundation’s work to end sex trafficking go to: Jen Lowman Day, Director of Communications, 612.236.1828.

    MN Girls Are Not For Sale CASE STUDY

    Chronicling the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s campaign to end the sex trafficking of Minnesota girls (October 2014)

    Written by Leah Lundquist
    Edited by Mary Beth Hanson and Jess Kubis, (Women’s Foundation of Minnesota)

    The purpose of this case study is to tell the story of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s bold launch of a campaign to end the sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota. By interviewing various stakeholders and weaving together foundational documents, this study chronicles the Foundation’s strategic approach to supporting a cross-sector, broad-scale effort. This study is offered as a guide to inform future such efforts of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, as well as other women’s foundations and philanthropies as they consider the design and launch of single-issue campaigns in response to complex issues.

    View Case Study ›

    View Campaign Brochure ›

  • Get Involved

    Get Involved

    Reduce the Demand

    I Don't Buy It Social ImagesTalk to the men and boys in your life about the harmful attitudes and exploitation in the commercial sex industry. Take the Don’t Buy It Project’s pledge to end the demand for commercial sex in any form. Take the action steps to end the demand by reducing every day examples of gender inequality and sexual violence.

    Increase Awareness

    Spot the signs of sex trafficking and learn how you can help.

    Prevent Exploitation

    I Am Priceless BillboardSurvivor-leaders from The Link were instrumental in creating I Am Priceless, a multi-channel public awareness campaign, funded by the Women’s Foundation, aimed at preventing young girls and boys (ages 10-14) from becoming sexually exploited. The I Am Priceless campaign includes public service announcements on radio, TV, billboards, bus shelters, and a school curriculum.

    Educate Yourself and Others

    Contact Men as Peacemakers to learn more about the Don’t Buy It Project‘s educational resources. This free prevention curriculum can help increase awareness about commercial sexual exploitation, its root causes, and how men can help end demand in their own communities. Learn more about this issue and the research commissioned by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to help fund this statewide response.

    Get your Business Involved

    Contact us to learn more and connect with others in the business community working to support anti-sex trafficking initiatives statewide.

    Involve Your Faith Community

    Visit The Guardian Project to learn more about involving your faith community in this effort.

    Host a Training

    The Sex Trafficking Training Resource Guide includes a diverse list of agencies, both local and national, that facilitate online or in-person anti-trafficking trainings in order to educate members of various industries.

    Show Your Support

    Year of Women T-Shirts
    Wear your support to end sex trafficking on a t-shirt, and be prepared to spread the word. A percentage of each My Sister purchase goes to nonprofit partners to help raise awareness, prevent, interrupt, and end the demand for sexual exploitation, and to educate and train victim-survivors with job skills.

    When you make a gift to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, choose the MN Girls Are Not For Sale Campaign designation and make a difference for the cross-sector Anti-Sex Trafficking partnership to prevent sexual exploitation and support victim-survivors.

    Other Things You Can Do
    • Support MN Girls Are Not For Sale: Make a financial donation and spread the word about the campaign.
    • Contact your elected officials and let them know you are concerned about the issue and support efforts to end sex trafficking in Minnesota. Use the Minnesota District Finder to find out how to contact your legislators directly.
    • Deepen your understanding of sex trafficking in America. Read and pass along Rachel Lloyd’s memoir, “Girls Like Us,” which chronicles her story as a trafficked girl and her work now through GEMS, the nonprofit she founded in NYC to serve girls & young women who’ve been trafficked. Share it with others and/or choose it for your book club selection.
    • Hold a “Screening Party for Change” to watch Rachel Lloyd’s internationally acclaimed Showtime documentary, “Very Young Girls” (available on Netflix).
    • Talk to the boys and men in your life about sex trafficking, and keep talking. Because men are at the core of this issue, the conversations may be uncomfortable — but just do it, and keep doing it. To end sex trafficking and stop the demand, boys and men must be drivers of the solution.
    • Talk to your child’s school and ask that information that protects children from sexual exploitation to be included in the school curriculum.
    • Monitor your child’s use of the Internet, social media, and other sites visited.
    • With their help, schools tell teachers, social workers, counselors and others to look for the signs of a possible victim:
      – Multiple unexplained absences from school.
      – A repeated tendency to run away from home.
      – Frequent travel to other cities.
      – Older boyfriends or girlfriends.
      – A sudden ability to have expensive items.
      – Appearing depressed or suffering physical injuries.
    • Now that you know more about the issue, be aware of street activities you see and take note of people you suspect may be at risk of harm and/or sexual exploitation. Do not question your concern. Trust your instincts and call 911 immediately.

If You Need Help

If someone you know has been forced into prostitution in Minnesota, please call the MN Day One Crisis Line at 866.223.1111 or text 612.399.9995.

Hotline call specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take reports from anywhere in the state related to potential sex trafficking victims. All reports are confidential. Interpreters are available.

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