Awaken (Reno, NV)


  • Name:Mrs. Catherine Leon
  • Title:Grant Manager

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Awaken
  • Address:P,O. Box 40635
    Reno, NV 89504
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:775-393-9183

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • Awaken increases awareness and education regarding the issue of sexual exploitation, and provides shelter and restoration for its victims.

    On the streets of Reno, women and girls (some as young as 11 and 12) are held hostage and forced to have sex for money. As one victim says, “What’s rape to you is normal to us.” These women and girls are our daughters, sisters, nieces, and mothers. They are victims of sex trafficking, trapped in what is essentially modern-day slavery.

    Our vision is to create a restorative community that includes physical, mental and spiritual care, education and employment opportunities, and transitional homes for those seeking to begin a new life.

  • Overview:
  • According to Carla Higginbotham, an assistant U.S. attorney in Reno, law enforcement agencies have rescued about 100 children identified as possible victims of sex trafficking in northern Nevada since 2002 (tragically, the average age of girls forced into the sex trade is between 12 and 14). This number does not include adult women which experts say would be impossible to produce because many women don't acknowledge that they are under the control of a pimp. However, based on research stating that a reportedly 30,000 sex workers are in Las Vegas, we can surmise that up to 10,000 may be working throughout Washoe County (Reno-Sparks) and Rural Nevada with a possibility of up to 1,600 being trafficked (16%).

    Historically, adult sex workers (coerced or otherwise) in Nevada have had extremely limited resources to facilitate their transition out of that world. While agencies exist to help victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, the concealed and often dangerous circumstances that surround victims of CSE and trafficking make this group more vulnerable and difficult to help. When sex workers are arrested for soliciting prostitution, they can talk with an advocate about services available to support them in testifying against their oppressors and rebuilding their lives. Nevertheless, without a clear safety net, victims will continue to struggle with the practical issue of how to escape safely and begin to plan for their futures. This is where Awaken steps in.

    Working extensively with this target population Awaken has developed a high-level of expertise regarding human trafficking in our region and knows the specialized and comprehensive needs of its victims.

    Awaken operates and manages a number of different programs aimed at helping to eradicate CSE and sex trafficking in our community:

    Awaken is proudly working to serve victims of commercial sexual exploitation with a variety of direct and supportive services. Yet, it also recognizes that measures must be taken to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the first place. These measures include preventative education efforts targeting the most vulnerable population – disadvantaged youth. Awaken provides school assemblies and school curriculum, and works with youth groups to talk to local students about the realities of human trafficking and how to prevent it from happening to them or their loved ones.

    One of the most exciting prevention services offered by Awaken is a middle school unit on slavery (which explores modern-day slavery) available for free to local teachers. All lessons meet State Common Core Standards and are taught by Awaken staff. This unit was first successfully presented in May of 2014 to Vaughn Middle School 7th graders.

    Since January 2014, Awaken has already worked with more than 830 students from Damonte Ranch High School, Vaughn Middle School, Truckee Meadows Community College, the University of Nevada, Reno, and others.

    In 2013, Awaken conducted outreach and/or provided direct services to 61 women and girls (a 45% increase over the previous year) to help them transition out of commercial sexual exploitation. Nearly all victims served by Awaken have had a history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. As many of the women have been trafficked beginning at a young age, navigating the world as a free adult or young woman is difficult and requires intensive and specialized interventions. We help program participants with long-term and emergency needs including basic outreach, mentorship services, counseling, transitional housing, transportation, financial aid for college, legal and medical assistance, and much more.

    In 2014, Awaken reached more than 60 women and girls, providing nearly 300 units of service. A breakdown of these services reveals that victim/survivor advocacy (20%) is the most common service provided, followed by transportation (14%), crisis intervention (12%), counseling (10%), and financial counseling (10%).

    City Transformation:
    In order to effectively advocate for social change, our community must be involved. In 2014, Awaken reached more than 2,000 people through more than 30 different events using a wide variety of outreach methods including street and brothel outreach, presentations at schools, colleges, hospitals, and service clubs, training workshops, prayer nights and more.

  • History:
  • In 2010, Ms. Melissa Holland was working as a counselor in Reno providing pro-bono services to women affected by commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and sex trafficking. Moved by the clear gap in services for this group of women, she founded Awaken in 2011 in an effort to provide more comprehensive resources to help women and girls escape a life of, what is essentially, modern-day slavery. Working extensively with this target population, Ms. Holland has developed a high-level of expertise regarding human trafficking in our region and knows the specialized and comprehensive needs of its victims.

    Ms. Holland, now a Marriage and Family Therapist, continues as the agency’s Executive Director. Under her direction, the agency has grown to offer a wide variety of critical services, increased its staff and volunteer base, developed community support, and, most importantly, served more than 150 women and girls.

    In 2012, Awaken hired a Program Coordinator to oversee and manage many of the services provided by Awaken and in 2013 the agency hired a part-time volunteer coordinator. In addition, the agency has developed The Professional Network, a diverse group of local professionals who have committed to donating their services and/or products to the women and girls we serve. These generous pro-bono services range from dental work, to legal assistance, to tattoo removal. The agency is grateful to have a list of more than 30 professionals donating these incredibly valuable services to help the people we serve reclaim and rebuild their lives.

    One of the main gaps identified by Awaken and its partners has been the lack of dedicated transitional housing for victims of CSE and sex trafficking. In October of 2013, Awaken opened its first transitional home to provide safe shelter specifically for the women we serve. Through this program alone, two women have escaped the sex trade. Plans are already in place to open a second transitional home to meet demand. Over the course of the last three years the agency has grown to offer the following services:

    • Shelter
    • Legal assistance
    • Rental assistance
    • Case management
    • Crisis intervention
    • Financial aid for college or job training
    • Transportation assistance
    • Victim advocacy
    • Counseling
    • Accompaniments
    • Referrals
    • Other related services

    While Awaken has accomplished a great deal, there is still much work to be done. We hope the Arbonne Foundation will partner with us in saving innocent lives from some of the most horrific circumstances imaginable.

  • Year established:2011
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:38-3843380

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:383843380
  • Organization Name:AWAKEN INC
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:% MELISSA HOLLAND
  • Organization Address:PO BOX 40635
  • Organization City:RENO
  • Organization State:NV
  • Organization Zip:89504-4635
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1, 2
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization, Educational Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:November, 2011
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:June, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:June
  • NTEE Code:L41
  • Asset Amount:$451,780
  • Asset Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • Income Amount:$224,464
  • Income Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$224,464
  • Last Updated:2/22/2018 2:25:44 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.