Mental Health, Crisis Intervention

GIRLS EDUCATIONAL AND MENTORING SERVICES INC

aka GEMS   |   New York, NY   |  www.gems-girls.org

Mission

Girls Educational and Mentoring Services' (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12-24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.  GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.

Ruling year info

2001

Founder and CEO

Rachel Lloyd

Main address

201 W. 148th Street, Ground Floor

New York, NY 10039 USA

Show more addresses

EIN

13-4150972

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (F01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (O01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GEMS was founded to serve and empower one of the most marginalized and disadvantaged populations, low-income girls and young women of color who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, and to change the policies and perceptions that adversely impact them. The vast majority of the girls and young women we serve come from fractured families, have experienced trauma prior to their recruitment into the commercial sex industry and have been systems involved. Over 70% of GEMS members have been in the child welfare system, 27% are parents, 79% reported being under the control of an exploiter, 68% have experienced homelessness, 80% have been involved with the juvenile or criminal justice systems and over 40% identify as LGBTQ. Fighting commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking means breaking generational cycles of poverty, fighting racism, misogyny and discrimination, and changing institutional and systemic responses to marginalized youth.

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?

Prevention and Outreach

Prevention and Outreach conducts peer-led outreach workshops in residential and detention facilities and schools across New York City. It uses a youth-friendly curriculum to facilitate open and honest discussions about commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth

Short Term and Crisis Care provides individualized services, including referrals and phone calls on the young person’s behalf, and immediate interventions by the Chief Program Officer or Support Services staff.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Court Advocacy includes Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) and Family Court advocacy efforts to provide defender-based alternative sentencing services and support for girls and young women, ages 16-24, who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and are involved in the criminal court system within the five boroughs of New York City on matters related to prostitution and correlating arrests.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Transitional and Supportive Housing program includes the Transitional Independent Living (TIL) and Imani House programs. The TIL provides housing to GEMS members between the ages of 16 and 24, and offers a supportive environment where youth can build self-sufficiency and lasting independent living skills. Imani House provides housing and childcare to GEMS members ages 18 to 23 and helps them secure permanent housing.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Holistic Case Management provides members with mental health assessments, counseling, health care, assistance with acquiring identification and benefits, and family intervention.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Youth Development addresses young women's developmental, social, and emotional needs through strength-based recreational, educational, and therapeutic programming.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Youth Leadership is a 16-week program focusing on critical thinking and leadership skills. Members deepen their understanding of the factors that contribute to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and build public speaking and community organizing skills. Graduates are eligible for GEMS' Fellowship Program, which consists of an internship component.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Educational Initiative focuses on education as a key component to economic security and personal development. GEMS provides tutoring, mentoring, and support to those who take the next step in their education. This program also helps members obtain employment through employment training, and rewards the educational achievements of the girls and young women with financial incentives.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)

The SISTA Mentoring program builds supportive, mentoring relationships betweenolder members and members under the age of 18 through weekly facilitated group activities that seek to increase engagement, build social skills and provide another layer of support for GEMS’ youngest members.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Our professional development program is open to service providers, law enforcement, legal professions and court officials, healthcare providers, educators, child welfare agencies, and other community members. GEMS offers several training packages designed to dispel common myths and stereotypes, identify signs of exploitation and build trauma-informed programming for vulnerable and marginalized youth.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Awards

National Crime Victim's Service Award 2012

Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Spirit of OJJDP Award 2011

Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention

Human Rights Award 2006

Reebok

Social Entrepreneurship Award 2008

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

GEMS will: a) Provide wraparound direct services to approximately 300 members per year, including crisis intervention, safety planning, basic needs, obtaining identification, holistic case management and referrals to medical and dental health, housing and other services. b) Make measurable improvements in healing and trauma recovery (e.g. increase in knowledge of CSE and trauma, increase in use of positive coping skills and improved self-esteem) for approximately 50 active members (i.e. engaged in programming for more than 6 months) per year through individual and drop-in group counseling and informed referrals to community-based mental health providers, as well as a reduction in PTSD symptoms for 15-20 members per year engaged in a bi-annual 12-week closed therapeutic group. c) Increase educational gains for approximately 75 members engaged in Educational Initiative, including individual support and advocacy, financial incentives, tutoring, college preparation, and increase vocational gains for an additional 25-40 members per year engaged in a quarterly 2-week closed job-readiness group.

GEMS theory of change states that with the right opportunities, girls and young women can move from victims to survivors to leaders.A trauma-informed approach is essential to our work. The violence and abuse inherent to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking means that most GEMS members are experiencing Complex Trauma, and many experience anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts and other symptoms as a result of their trauma. GEMS provides mental health support both in-house, with three licensed clinical social workers on staff, and a per diem psychologist, and through our community partnerships with a variety of mental health resources. Staff utilize a variety of clinical modalities including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR), as well as expressive therapies such as aromatherapy, yoga, transcendental meditation, music and art therapy to ensure an individualized approach. GEMS’ comprehensive support services aim to ensure that the girls and young women we serve become free from CSE and trafficking, make improvements in trauma recovery, increase their healthy social support, achieve educational and vocational gains, become self-sufficient, and strengthen their communities by becoming empowered advocates for themselves and their peers. Our Educational Initiative program in particular has a long-term impact on our member’s ability to move out of poverty. We know that educational attainment has a significant impact on expected earnings over a person’s lifetime, and that women of color are particularly impacted by the gender gap in education and income. By supporting our members to engage or reengage with their education, we provide them with an incredibly effective tool for improving their economic situation. Our survivor-led and survivor-engaged programming prepares members to become leaders in their own lives, families and communities. For two decades, GEMS has supported and empowered thousands of girls and young women, with comprehensive, holistic services, in gaining independence, safety, education, employment and economic sustainability for themselves and their children.

Key to members’ healing journeys is the intentional community that GEMS has created to support survivors. The first foundational principle of GEMS’ Victim, Survivor, Leader (VSL) model is Survivor Leadership and the belief that survivors should be at the forefront of developing and implementing any program or policy that impacts them. As a survivor-led organization, GEMS empowers survivors as members, as alumni and as staff to support, mentor and engage other survivors. The benefits of a healing community made up of women and young women who share the same experiences cannot be underestimated as a therapeutic tool and a powerful engagement strategy. Survivors and alumni staff at GEMS share and model daily what healing and life on the other side of crisis and trauma can look like and give a sense of hop to girls and young women who often have none. Survivor leadership is integral to all of GEMS work and is a critical component of all programs and services for its members. GEMS embodies survivor leadership, with survivor working at all levels of the organization from the CEO to directors, managers, coordinators, and consultants. The organization works to empower our members through internships and fellowships within GEMS as well as giving alumni members the opportunity to apply for part- and full-time staff positions. Additionally, GEMS is committed to ensuring that our members have a voice in how the organization is operated. GEMS regularly holds community meetings where members are given opportunities to express their opinions and give feedback about their experiences with the organization. Member buy-in is a requirement for any programming Girls and young women requiring short term or crisis needs receive trauma-informed crisis care services, including crisis housing, practical resources such as food and clothing, referrals for longer term housing, substance abuse treatment, intensive mental health treatment, advocacy with the criminal justice system, on site visits to hospitals or jail, support with forensic exams and forensic interviewing, obtaining restraining orders, support with victim/witness testimony, safety planning, support with housing transfers and crime victims compensation advocacy, crisis housing, immigration advocacy, and legal advocacy in criminal and family court and immediate interventions, counseling and therapeutic support by Support Services staff who are all trained in crisis care. Holistic Supportive Services Case Management (HSSCM), provides comprehensive programming that works with young people over a longer period of time and provides ongoing assessment, internal and external referrals, goal planning and counseling, and weekly one-on one support through a specifically adapted version of the Stages of Change model and Motivational Interviewing to build Transformational Relationships (a term coined by the youth organization, Roca and adapted for this population to be our second VSL foundational principle) with staff.

We recognize that focusing solely on behavior change places the onus on the victims even though, as girls and young women who have experienced CSE, they have little to no control over their exploitation and safety. Relapse back into the commercial sex industry, movement into and out of services, and experiencing crisis at any point are a part of the recovery process and seen as an opportunity for learning and growth. Thus, the timeframe for completion of outcomes is ongoing as members enter and progress at different levels of development and readiness to engage. Therefore, we base the success of our programming not just on our members being free from the life, but also on improving their quality of life by replacing what has been lost due to their exploitation. We focus on creating safety and stability, recovering and healing from trauma, trusting and connecting to others, and improving their life prospects by increasing their access to the educational and leadership opportunities from which they have been disengaged. We do this by working toward the following program outcomes linked to five core themes for all members of the target population: Safety: defined as being free from commercial sexual exploitation for 6 months or more Healing: defined as making measurable improvements in trauma recovery Connectedness: defined as an increase in healthy social support Education: defined as academic advancement and/or career development and mobility Leadership: defined as an increase in self-sufficiency, only measured for members over the age of 16 Members are assessed for outcomes at baseline (within 30 days of first meeting with their case manager, or 24 hours for housing residents) and again every 90 days until they have met all of the program outcomes. Members are assessed again at six months, one year and two years after completing program outcomes to measure if they are able to sustain or continue to make improvements across the five themes. Aggregate program outcomes are reported annually for members engaged in support services for more than six months or residing in a housing program for more than three months. We believe that if members have achieved the program outcomes outlined above, they will be better positioned to remain free from commercial sexual exploitation and reach their full potential. Our data management system, Apricot, collects the following member information: contact information and demographics; referrals and intakes to GEMS; weekly member progress notes and assessments; individual service plans (ISPs); Criminal and Family Court cases and mandates; and referrals to community partners. We continue to focus on improving data quality, ensuring that data is consistently and accurately entered into the system in a timely manner.

In operation for 20 years, GEMS has been the leading organization serving girls and young women of color who have experienced CSE and domestic trafficking and has an unparalleled level of experience and expertise with this population. GEMS is the largest survivor led organization in the country, the first organization in New York State to focus on domestic trafficking and CSE, and remains the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve commercially sexually exploited and trafficked girls and young women. GEMS runs the national Survivor Leadership Institute that supports hundreds of individuals, including men and transgender people who identify as survivors of the commercial sex industry. Since its inception, GEMS has been a leader in the movement to end commercial sexual exploitation. A large component of that leadership has been our awareness-raising efforts which have included the production of the 2007 documentary Very Young Girls and the publication of Rachel Lloyd’s biography Girls Like Us in 2011. Additionally, GEMS has a long history of successful education and advocacy around the issue of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2007, GEMS was funded by OJJDP to create the first national curriculum on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The 3-day Train the Trainer intensive was independently evaluated by the University of Southern California and found to significantly increase knowledge of the issue, shift attitudes and change misconceptions and develop skills for identification and intervention. GEMS trained thousands of youth-serving professionals across the country through this training and many components of this curriculum are commonly used in most trafficking trainings today. In 2008, after four years of GEMS survivor-led youth advocacy, New York passed the New York Safe Harbor Act for Children. This Act passed because of the courage of GEMS girls and young women who shared their experiences and fought on behalf of their peers to change a broken system. Co-written by GEMS’ Founder, the Act made New York the first state in the nation to pass a law designed to protect and not punish trafficked and exploited youth. To date, two dozen states have followed suit and implemented similar laws. GEMS has received numerous awards for its work including two awards from the federal government; Office for Victims of Crime’s National Crime Victim Service Award (2012); Spirit of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Award (2011), the global Reebok Human Rights Award (2006), the Celebrating Women Award from The New York Women’s Foundation (2013); and last year GEMS founder and CEO was awarded the global World’s Children’s Prize voted on by 1.2 million children and previously won by Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

Financials

GIRLS EDUCATIONAL AND MENTORING SERVICES INC
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Operations

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

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GIRLS EDUCATIONAL AND MENTORING SERVICES INC

Board of directors
as of 5/14/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Renee Anderson

Ellen Fried

Brooklyn College

Motisola Zulu

M. Zulu, PC

David Schisgall

Swinging T Productions

Diana Taylor

Wolfensohn and Co.

Keith White

Free Integrated Holdings, LLC

Arden Wohl

Cri de Coeur

Beth Ann Day

Bernstein

Renee Anderson

AllianceBernstein

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? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Keywords

Mentoring, Empowerment, Girls, Young Women, Counseling, Exploitation, Violence, Incarceration, Education, Leadership, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Domestic Trafficking, CSEC, Victims, Domestic Violence