The city of Oakland was identified as a hub for the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in the form of street prostitution and child pornography. Alameda County responded by launching the Sexually Exploited Minors Task Force, a year-long convening that brought together county, city, and community leaders and representatives to examine the breadth and scope of sexual exploitation of children in the area.
2003 to 2004
These two years saw intensive consciousness raising and educational outreach on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation. Community providers and county staff, including local law enforcement, collaborated to provide critical information about the issue and presented their findings throughout the county as well as in neighboring areas.
The county-wide Sexually Exploited Minors (SEM) Network was formed, committed to establishing a continuum of CSEC specific services and system responses focused on addressing the complex needs of children and teens victimized through sexual exploitation.
SEM Network member organization George P. Scotlan Youth & Family Center began to develop services specifically for sexually exploited girls. Working in the heart of West Oakland, Scotland Center staff Nola Brantley, Adela Hernandez Rodarte, Sarai T. Smith-Mazariegos, and Emily Hamman experienced firsthand the devastating impact of the local sex trafficking trade on the girls who passed through Scotlan’s doors, witnessing with heartbreaking consistency the dangerous circumstances and dire crises faced by many of the girls.
Determined to address the needs and plight of CSEC, these four pioneers applied for and were awarded a grant through the San Francisco Foundation to pilot the very first Sexually Exploited Minor program in Alameda County.
Scotlan Center partnered with the Interagency Children’s Policy Council and other SEM Network members to apply for the first round of City of Oakland Measure Y violence prevention funding in order to establish outreach, advocacy, and case management services for CSEC.
With funding in place, Nola, Adela, Sarai, and Emily worked tirelessly to create the first CSEC engagement, advocacy, and community-based service model in the county, in partnership with the Oakland Police Department, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Alameda County Probation Department, and Alameda County Social Services Agency.
MISSSEY was a division of Be A Mentor until 501(c)(3) status was awarded in December 2006.
Nola, Adela, Sarai and Emily launched MISSSEY, a survivor-led, survivor-informed nonprofit organization devoted to “motivating, inspiring, supporting and serving sexually exploited youth.” The co-founders divided organizational responsibilities among themselves.
2007 to 2014
Under the leadership of the co-founders and Nola Brantley as executive director in 2009, new and groundbreaking practices were created and honed, informing and inspiring new generations of advocates, service providers, and policy makers in the developing field of CSEC prevention and intervention, touching the lives of approximately 1,000 girls.
About 10,000 professionals in law enforcement, employees of the judicial system, social services personnel, and educators have been trained to identify and help CSEC since MISSSEY’s inception as the county’s premiere anti-trafficking organization.
MISSSEY begins providing technical assistance to counties, communities, and individual agencies in setting up CSEC-focused programs, integrating CSEC victim support into existing services, creating CSEC task forces, and bringing first responders up to speed.
MISSSEY becomes a nationally recognized leader in the CSEC field and movement.
MISSSEY continues to be devoted to young people, a safe space where youth impacted by commercial sexual exploitation are accepted and embraced; where their victim status is acknowledged, but does not define them; where they are understood and never judged; where they are supported in both their healing and in the development of their aspirational selves; where the past may inform, but does not determine their future; where cycles of abuse are broken and where life-affirming experiences are holistically nurtured as stepping stones towards establishing fully enriched and empowered lives.