State-by-State Resources

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Mission

Polaris Project is committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and to strengthening the anti-trafficking movement through a comprehensive approach.


Values

Polaris Project is grounded in a set of values and organizational beliefs that provide a foundation for all our programmatic activities. We strive to embody and model these values within the Polaris Project community and within the anti-trafficking movement.

Service

Polaris Project has a culture of deep commitment and service to the mission of our agency and to the people we serve. That commitment and attitude of service drive the sacrifices that our staff and volunteers make to dedicate themselves to our work, to each other, and to our clients. An important component of that attitude of service is humility, a practice that is encouraged and valued in our programmatic work as well as in our organizational culture.

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Reality and Impact-Centered

Polaris Project recognizes that we are using extremely limited resources to combat a problem of massive scope and immediate urgency. To minimize this obstacle, we use a strategic framework that focuses on achieving the greatest positive systemic impact possible given our available resources. Our programs are constantly being evaluated and refined against this standard to help ensure we are maximizing our impact and staying focused on our mission.

Polaris Project embraces the complexity around the problem we combat, the solutions that are adopted, and the people and organizations involved. We reject ideological thinking as it is often rigid and insensitive to reality and as ultimately damaging to assisting those in need. We try to appreciate the viewpoints, insights, and lessons of people on all sides of debates, taking what is best to strengthen our ability to serve others most effectively.

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Empowerment

Polaris Project uses an empowerment model that helps identify, appreciate, and fully realize the strengths and aspirations of both our clients as well as the grassroots volunteers in the movement. We provide opportunities to show people their own power to transform their lives and the lives of others for the better.

We both embody and celebrate multiculturalism among our clients, staff, and supporters, and cultivate an environment of respect and openness to the diversity within our organization.

We enjoy and actively foster a feeling of family among our clients, staff, and volunteers that enables a greater appreciation and expression of our humanity, while avoiding the de-humanization that can occur with bureaucratization.

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Non-Violence and Respect

Polaris Project strives to encourage the practice of non-violence among our staff and volunteers, not only because we believe it is right, but also because we believe it is most effective. The practice of non-violence requires us to first ask how we can be better or help others be better, rather than destructively criticize or support the disempowerment of others or other organizations. It is the ethic that helps protect movements from destructive internal politics and in-fighting, while encouraging self-improvement as organizations, and mutual constructive support and collaboration.

The practice of non-violence reminds us that even those who commit the most heinous acts are human beings, and should be understood and cared about even as their behaviors are condemned and their ability to cause further suffering is curtailed. Humanization of all parties leads to a more realistic understanding of the motivations and experiences underlying the behaviors, and facilitates more effective and comprehensive solutions.

Non-violence as a personal practice among staff and volunteers helps transform the self-defensive reaction to being attacked or criticized into an attitude of love, appreciation, and groundedness. This practice supports growth and openness and helps protect against the risk of burn-out.

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Transformative Innovation

Polaris Project values programmatic and strategic innovation, recognizing that what is typical or traditional is not always optimal. We have found that the risk of taking the unbeaten path is usually outweighed by the experience gained, if not by the eventual destination itself. Polaris Project aims to be courageous in the creation of systemic change.

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Holistic Approach

Polaris Project is an inclusive organization, serving victims of all forms of human trafficking, and addressing what we feel are all parts of the issue of human trafficking, including the victims, perpetrators, demand, and support structure.

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Polaris Project founders Katherine Chon and Derek Ellerman.
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"I am a mother of two and a client of Polaris Project. Polaris Project has changed my life. It’s extremely hard to get back on your feet after going through what I’ve gone through. They give me a safe place to stay in an environment that feels warm. They are comforting and do all they can to uplift me to do what I have to do to get ahead."
- Trafficking survivor on the role of Polaris Project in her life