Breaking Free (St. Paul, MN)


  • Name:Emily Baldwin
  • Title:Fundraising and Development Manager

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Breaking Free
  • Address:778 University Avenue West
    St. Paul, MN 55104
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:651-645-6557

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • To educate and provide services to women/girls who have been victims of abuse and commercial sexual exploitation and need assistance escaping violence in their lives.

  • Overview:
  • The United Nations estimates that 27 million people are enslaved worldwide—more than any other time in history. In 2003, Minneapolis, MN was identified by the FBI as one of 13 cities with a large concentration of child prostitution enterprises. By very conservative measures, a November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 underage girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity. That same study found that the online sales of minor girls being sold for sex in Minnesota increased by 55% over a six month period. None of these local numbers represent the adult women who are victims of prostitution/sex trafficking, many of whom were at one point youth victims who never received the opportunity to escape.

    Breaking Free is working to combat these issues. Last year Breaking Free provided 16,673 individual direct services in Minnesota to 510 sexually trafficked women and girls. One fifth of those served were unaccompanied youth; 66% of these women and youth had minor children at the time of their intake; 69% were women/girls of color; and 100% of those we served were living at or below the poverty line. Breaking Free was able to provide comprehensive case management to 99% of our clients, including providing safe housing for 114 women, youth, and their children.

    Part of providing services to these women and youth includes working with public policies and creating social change. Two key components of this are: 1) educating as well as partnering with both communities and professionals to increase awareness, education, and resources surrounding the issues of sex trafficking, and 2) stopping the demand. Breaking Free partners with over 45 local organizations including many law enforcement agencies, county attorney’s offices, churches, schools, medical professionals, and other service providers. Breaking Free also works to address the demand by running the only “John School” in the state, a court-ordered diversion program for perpetrators. Last year 197 perpetrators attended Breaking Free’s John School. Throughout the entire history of the school, there has been a less than 2% recidivism rate for those who have gone through our program, as tracked by local law enforcement.

    Breaking Free services are effective because the voices of the victims and survivors are at the heart of not only the mission, but every single aspect of the programming as well. Breaking Free is proud to state that 58% of its current staff are survivors of prostitution/sex trafficking—some of whom are former clients of the agency. This gives Breaking Free a unique understanding and perspective concerning the needs and barriers associated with helping women and youth escape from this violence.

    Starting this summer Breaking Free plans on opening a youth specific housing program for youth who have been prostituted/sexually trafficked and for whom it is not safe to return home. This is an expansion of both our currently running Youth Programming as well as an expansion to our Women’s and Families Transitional Housing and Permanent Housing Programs (in the past youth had resided in these residencies as well but will now be gaining their own facility with services aimed more specifically at their age and developmental needs). Breaking Free is currently the only housing and service provider designed specifically for sexually trafficked women and youth in the state of Minnesota. It is also the only provider of permanent housing for this population in the entire country.

  • History:
  • Breaking Free, Inc. was established in October 1996, by Founder and Executive Director, Vednita Carter, as a non-profit organization serving women and girls involved in systems of abuse and sexual exploitation/sex trafficking. While based in African American culture, Breaking Free is committed to working with diverse populations of sexually exploited women and girls. Its headquarters is located in Saint Paul, MN with satellite offices in Minneapolis and Rochester, MN. Over the last 17 years, Breaking Free has served more than 5,500 clients and reached over 22,000 individuals through outreach efforts while systematically growing its programming to embrace a full continuum of care. The primary target population is females in the age range of 14 to 59 years, who have been exploited sexually for commercial purposes. They are predominantly African American and women of color (69%) and have mental health and chemical abuse issues. 100% of those we serve are living at or below the poverty line.

  • Year established:1996
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:5
  • Advisory board size:
  • Staff size:30


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:

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