Polaris Project

Freedom Happens Now

aka Polaris   |   Washington, DC   |  www.PolarisProject.org

Mission

Named after the North Star, an historical symbol of freedom, Polaris is leading a social justice movement to end sex and labor trafficking at the massive scale of the problem — 27.6 million people worldwide robbed of the freedom to choose how they live and work. Through operating the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (Trafficking Hotline), we have addressed 80,000+ trafficking situations and assisted 30,000+ victims and survivors, while helping hold traffickers accountable and building the largest known data set on trafficking in North America. Guided by survivors, we use that data to change the policies, perceptions, and power dynamics that make people vulnerable, aiming to prevent trafficking before it happens.

Ruling year info

2002

Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Catherine Chen

Main address

PO Box 65323

Washington, DC 20035 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

03-0391561

NTEE code info

Protection Against and Prevention of Neglect, Abuse, Exploitation (I70)

Women's Rights (R24)

International Human Rights (Q70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Around the world, human trafficking robs almost 28 million people of the freedom to choose how they live and work. Whether forced to sell sex or to work under unlivable conditions, these people are abused for profit in a $150 billion global industry. Operating the Trafficking Hotline, Polaris knows that there is no single story of human trafficking. It happens in different ways to people from different walks of life. But it never happens in a vacuum. Traffickers exploit people’s needs, fears, and dreams, taking advantage of those who are more vulnerable due to childhood trauma, poverty, prejudice, or other challenges in our broken societal systems. This is especially clear following COVID-19, as the pandemic’s disruptions have had lasting effects. Meanwhile, although the anti-trafficking ecosystem has evolved rapidly over the last two decades, there are still significant gaps in service capacity, data, and trauma-informed best practice and policy.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline

Polaris operates the Trafficking Hotline, the backbone for U.S. trafficking response. Available 24/7/365 in 200+ languages, the Trafficking Hotline connects victims, survivors, and those supporting them to a referral network of 3,000 service providers and law enforcement contacts. It also receives tips and shares information with the public.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Victims and oppressed people

Polaris aims to reduce sex trafficking in 25 U.S. cities through shifting legal accountability for trafficking, changing norms around sex buying, and expanding social safety nets for vulnerable populations. Current priorities include advancing criminal justice reform to end criminalization of victims and survivors, supporting them in securing economic justice, and ensuring service access by leading city-based coalitions of survivors and service providers to advocate for change.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups
Women and girls
LGBTQ people
At-risk youth
Victims and oppressed people

Polaris aims to end labor trafficking of migrant guest workers in the U.S. by empowering workers to demand fair recruitment, ending the current system of tied visas, and changing the standards of behavior of employers and recruiters. Current priorities include amplifying worker voices to create a data-driven understanding of systemic abuses in the H-2 program and raising awareness of the need to reform the system and enforce stronger labor protections.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Victims and oppressed people

Using analyses from the Trafficking Hotline and other sources, Polaris puts data into action to support federal, state, and local laws and policies on human trafficking, ranging from reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to criminal record relief and credit repair for survivors.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Immigrants and migrants
Victims and oppressed people
Domestic workers

Polaris equips financial services to disrupt human trafficking at scale by deploying financial system structures and processes (e.g., anti-money laundering and sanctions) to disrupt human trafficking businesses. We also bolster the financial resiliency of vulnerable populations through financial inclusion initiatives. Currently, we are scaling the financial sector’s ability to disrupt trafficking via targeted engagement, training, and provision of open-source intelligence analysis for select financial institutions.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Ethnic and racial groups
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Victims and oppressed people

Where we work

Awards

Ohtli Award 2020

Government of Mexico

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Cases Reported per Year

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Ethnic and racial groups, Economically disadvantaged people, Immigrants and migrants, Victims and oppressed people

Related Program

U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Since 2007, the Trafficking Hotline has handled 340,000+ contacts, responded to 80,000+ cases, and assisted 30,000+ victims/survivors. 2021 numbers are being finalized per data cleaning processes.

Number of Contacts per Year

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Ethnic and racial groups, Economically disadvantaged people, Immigrants and migrants, Victims and oppressed people

Related Program

U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Metric includes calls, texts, online chats, emails, or webforms. 2021 numbers are being finalized per data cleaning processes, but we have estimated the total based on monthly average through 10/2021.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Envisioning a world where every human being maintains the dignity to choose how they live and work, Polaris aims to end sex and labor trafficking and help victims and survivors reclaim their freedom.

To accomplish our goals, Polaris’s strategies include both responding to the immediate needs of victims and survivors and working to prevent trafficking before it happens. At the core of our work is the Trafficking Hotline, which enables us to connect victims, survivors, and those supporting them to needed services, resources, and other assistance.

Furthermore, each contact sheds light on how trafficking works — and how Polaris can help intervene in situations of trafficking and stop it from happening in the first place. By analyzing data generated through the Trafficking Hotline, we know that reducing and ultimately preventing trafficking requires advocating for policies, practices, and resources that address the vulnerabilities that enable the crime, whether poverty, gender-based violence, migration, abuse, systemic racism, or unstable housing.

These dual prongs of response and prevention are integrated throughout our work , which includes Direct Response; Research, Intelligence, and Data Analysis; and Campaigns and Advocacy. All of this work is not only informed by survivors but is growing more centered around them as the true experts of the anti-trafficking movement.

Survivor centered, justice and equity driven, and technology enabled, Polaris has established itself as a national leader and technical expert on human trafficking, knitting together the fabric of the country’s anti-trafficking movement. Our unique capacities include:

- A FOUNDATION FOR THE FIGHT: The Trafficking Hotline is the centralized system for human trafficking response in the U.S. Countless organizations, businesses, media outlets, and elected leaders refer those in need and those supporting them to the Trafficking Hotline, and Polaris plays a pivotal role in directing them to local resources. Information flows both ways, too: Using Trafficking Hotline data, Polaris observes trends and learns best practices that are shared back out to advance the entire field.

- SCOPE AND SCALE FOR SOLUTIONS: Polaris approaches efforts against trafficking from all angles, tackling sex and labor trafficking, serving children to adults, and delivering a spectrum of services from frontline response to working with financial institutions, policymakers, and technology experts to disrupt and prevent trafficking. And as a national organization, our size and scope have the potential to multiply the efforts of smaller service providers, bridging local impact with the scope and skills to reduce and end trafficking at the scale of the problem.

- TRUST AND TRUE PARTNERSHIP: Polaris has helped make human trafficking a nationally recognized issue over the past two decades. During that time, we have also built a reputation as a trustworthy resource, as well as trusting relationships with survivor leaders and public and private decision makers on both sides of the political aisle. Our intentionally collaborative structure has served as a model for many state and local anti-trafficking coalitions, making Polaris part of the origin story not only of the national movement but of local initiatives as well.

Since its founding in 2002, Polaris has evolved from primarily offering victims’ services to driving the nascent national movement to prevent sex and labor trafficking by addressing the systems that make communities vulnerable to exploitation. In its first two decades, Polaris has marked the following milestones:

- Launching the TRAFFICKING HOTLINE and serving as the first and only operator, assisting more than 30,000 victims and survivors across all 50 states, U.S. territories, and 179 countries.
- Creating a coordinated NORTH AMERICAN SAFETY NET with Canadian and Mexican national human trafficking hotlines.
- Developing a SURVIVOR EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE, hiring 175+ survivor consultants to work on a range of projects.
- Conducting the first-of-its-kind NATIONAL SURVIVOR STUDY, an innovative, scientifically rigorous research project designed in partnership with survivors.
- Delivering TRAINING for more than 200,000 stakeholders, including nonprofits, law enforcement, corporations, financial institutions, government agencies, faith communities, and the general public.
- Creating dozens of BRIEFS AND DATA REPORTS, including “The Typology of Modern Slavery” that identifies 25 types of human trafficking.
- Helping found the ALLIANCE TO END SLAVERY AND TRAFFICKING national advocacy coalition and leading efforts to pass five federal and over 100 state laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Moving forward, Polaris is doubling down on:
- Strengthening frontline response by upgrading and resourcing the Trafficking Hotline to make sure that everyone who finds themselves in a situation of exploitation can get help through terms, timing, and methods that work best for them.
- Developing deeper analysis and intelligence capacity to leverage data assets and power the anti-trafficking movement’s knowledge needs.
- Promoting long-term prevention and survivor economic development by facilitating city-based safety net expansion and criminal justice reform, improving migrant worker recruitment and labor conditions, and cutting off traffickers’ access to financial services.
- Centering survivors as the leaders and experts in the fight against human trafficking, from program design and narrative change campaigns to data research and policy recommendations.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

Polaris Project
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Polaris Project

Board of directors
as of 09/23/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Gregory Moore

Roy Austin, Jr.

Lisa Benenson

Boris Gartner

Frederick Reynolds

Angel Swift

Jean Gilbert

Tanya Gould

Susan Coppedge

Liz Kiehner

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Not applicable
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Not applicable
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/26/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islanders/Asian
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data