Breaking Free (St. Paul, MN)


  • Name:Katie McShea
  • Title:Research & Development Specialist

Organization Address

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

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:651-645-6557

Organization Web

User Email


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

    Philosophy: At Breaking Free, we understand sex trafficking as a vicious cycle of violence, abuse, incarnation, and addiction. Repeated experiences of violence undermine women and girls’ capacities to avoid further victimization. Sexual exploitation distorts the lives of women and girls, destroys families, and ultimately undermines the fabric of our communities. In order to break the cycle, we must first recognize sex trafficking as a form of violence against women.

  • Overview:
  • Breaking Free strives to empower women and girls to choose healthy, self-sufficient lifestyles. Our fundamental goals include strategies that focus on intervention, prevention, and education to ensure safe/stable housing and family functioning, while operating in a culturally appropriate and gender-specific context, with a secondary goal of decreasing the demand for sex trafficking. Breaking Free works to achieve these goals in the following ways:

    • Provide education, crisis intervention, and advocacy to sex trafficked women and girls.
    • Prevention- Decrease their exposure to and involvement in systems of violence
    • Advocacy- connect families with community resources to maintain stability and family functioning.
    • Provide and/or coordinate safe, stable housing for women/youth and their children.
    • Provide opportunities for education and life skills to enable them to move out of poverty and become self-sustaining and improve the parenting skills of mothers.
    • Operate within a culturally appropriate, age and gender-specific context
    • Educate the community about the effects of commercial sexual exploitation on women and girls and the negative effects on the community.
    • Bring change to public policy regarding the treatment of victims and the prosecution of pimps and “johns” while working to educate men about their role in this in an effort to decrease the demand for sexual services.

  • History:
  • Established in 1996 by awarding-winning abolitionist Vednita Carter, Breaking Free is an afro-centric, social justice non-profit agency. Nationally recognized for its expertise, Breaking Free provides culturally specific, survivor led, trauma-informed advocacy, direct services, housing facilities, and education to victims of sex trafficking. Breaking Free is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota with satellite offices in Minneapolis and Rochester. Over the past 19 years, Breaking Free has served more than 6,000 clients and reached over 24,000 individuals via street outreach, while systematically growing it’s programming to embrace a full continuum of care. Our primary target population is females in the age range of 14-59 years, who have been sexually exploited. They are predominately African-American and women of color, living below the poverty line, and have mental health/chemical abuse issues.

    The programming offered at Breaking Free has changed the course of thousands of lives by developing ground-breaking programs, including: permanent housing, transitional housing, youth housing, life/job skills education, community outreach initiatives, prevention and intervention strategies, innovative diversion programs for both victims and perpetrators, and public policy initiatives, all specifically designed to benefit survivors of sex trafficking and to end the demand.


    During our past fiscal year (2013-2014), a total of 18,729 individual direct services were provided to our clients including advocacy, case management, crisis intervention, education, counseling, cash assistance, housing, rental assistance, therapy, referrals, criminal justice advocacy, legal services, food and clothing assistance, and other direct services.

    • 130 women, girls, and their children/family members resided in Breaking Free’s housing.
    • 405 women and girls attended educational/support groups.
    • 155 utilized resources and opportunities for job/life skills and higher education.
    • 595 legal advocacy services were provided.
    • 155 perpetrators attended the Offenders Prostitution Program (John School)
    • 1,800 high-risk individuals were reached and provided resources through community street outreach.
    • 121 presentations and trainings were made to the community, schools, churches, service providers, law enforcement, and the court system, reaching 8,234 people.

    Of the 524 sex trafficked women and girls who received advocacy and direct services from Breaking Free:

    • 66% were women/girls of color.
    • 30% had minor children at time of intake.
    • 100% were living in poverty.
    • 91% suffered from some type of emotional, physical, or mental disability.
    • 90% were chemically dependent.
    • 45% were homeless/ in need of safe housing.
    • 70% resided in the Twin Cities metro, 15% came from Greater Minnesota, and 15% from other geographic locations.

    Relationships and Partnerships

    Over the years, Breaking Free has formed strong relationships and built collaborations with many other organizations and programs. Breaking Free understands that to address an issue as complex as sex trafficking, it is important to work in partnership with other direct service providers, law enforcement, criminal justice professionals, healthcare providers, and policymakers. Key partnerships include:

    -RESOURCE, Inc. Recovery Resource Center. Breaking Free maintains a contract with Resource Incorporated, Chemical Dependency Treatment Center, located in Minneapolis MN. Women in need of chemical dependency treatment and/or continuing care are referred from Breaking Free to Resource and provided short term/long term treatment and continuing care depending on their need. In addition, a weekly chemical health/ relapse prevention group is facilitated on site at Breaking Free.
    -St. Paul Police Department, City Attorney’s Office- Breaking Free works with the Saint Paul Police Department, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, the City of Saint Paul Attorney’s Office and the court system to advocate for prostituted women and children’s rights within the system.
    -The MN Statewide Human Trafficking (HTTF) Task Force and Jerry Vick Task Force- Breaking Free has been a member and instrumental voice on both Task Forces and co- chairs the statewide MN HHTF.
    -The Women’s Foundation- MN Girls Are Not for Sale Campaign- Breaking Free has a long-standing relationships with the Women’s’ Foundation and has had an instrumental in its new initiative to end the commercial sexual exploitation of minors in MN. Other Partnerships Include:

    FBI/ICE, Ramsey County Attorney's Office/Corrections/Probation, Olmsted County Attorney's Office/Corrections/Probation, Dakota County Attorney's Office/Corrections/Probation, St. Paul Police, Rochester Police, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center Police, Minneapolis Police, and Bloomington Police.

  • Year established:1996
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:8
  • Advisory board size:
  • Staff size:28


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:509(a)(1)
  • Tax ID:41-1856806

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:411856806
  • Organization Name:BREAKING FREE
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:% VENITA CARTER
  • Organization Address:770 UNIVERSITY AVE W
  • Organization City:SAINT PAUL
  • Organization State:MN
  • Organization Zip:55104-4805
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):2, 1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Educational Organization, Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:December, 1997
  • 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):994, 123, 149
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Described in section 170(b)1)(a)(vi) of the Code, Discussion groups, forums, panels lectures, etc., Other instruction and training
  • 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:P43
  • Asset Amount:$905,953
  • Asset Code:5 ($500,000 - $999,999)
  • Income Amount:$1,342,373
  • Income Code:6 ($1,000,000 - $4,999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$1,341,773
  • Last Updated:3/23/2018 4:02:04 am

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.