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Polaris Project
Motto For A World Without Slavery
Formation 2002
Type NGO
Purpose Combat human trafficking and slavery
Headquarters Washington, DC
  • United States, Japan
Executive Director
Bradley Myles
Main organ
Board of Directors
Website Official website

Polaris Project, founded by Katherine Chon and Derek Ellerman, is one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the United States and Japan,[citation needed] with programs operating at international, national and local levels through their offices in Washington, DC; Newark, NJ; and Tokyo, Japan. Polaris Project is one of the few organizations working on all forms of trafficking and serving both citizen and foreign national victims of human trafficking.

Polaris Project's vision is for a world without slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves towards freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project has been providing a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery since 2002. [1] This approach includes conducting direct outreach and victim identification, providing social services and transitional housing to victims, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) serving as the central national hotline on human trafficking, advocating for stronger state and Federal anti-trafficking legislation, and engaging community members in local and national grassroots efforts.

National programs[edit]

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)[edit]

The NHTRC is a national, 24-hour, toll-free, anti-trafficking hotline operated and implemented by Polaris Project and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NHTRC works to improve the national response to protect victims of human trafficking in the U.S. The NHTRC maintains a national database of anti-trafficking agencies as well as a library of available anti-trafficking resources and materials. The NHTRC also works in collaboration with the anti-trafficking movement in the United States, which includes: HHS Rescue and Restore Coalitions, DOJ-funded Human Trafficking Task Forces, FBI Innocence Lost Task forces, Federal victims' services and outreach grantees, statewide human trafficking task forces, community-based initiatives, and on-going research projects. Call 1-888-3737-888 to report a tip; to connect with anti-trafficking services in your area; or to request training and technical assistance, general information, or specific anti-trafficking resources.

U.S. Policy Program[edit]

Based out of their Washington D.C. headquarters, Polaris Project's U.S. Policy Program works to advance state and federal policy related to the crime of human trafficking, providing services to victims, training state employees, and educating the public. Polaris Project engages in direct lobbying and grassroots outreach. Successes include extensive work on the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, reauthorization of the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act as well as advancing state policy in more than 25 states.

Training and technical assistance[edit]

The Training, Technical Assistance and Strategic Planning Program (TTASP) works to improve the systemic response to protect victims of human trafficking in the United States. The TTASP Program is designed to help strengthen the anti-trafficking field, to share best practices, to improve national levels of coordination, and meet the urgent need of the field for accessible and comprehensive information as well as practitioner-based training, technical assistance, and strategic support.

Public Outreach and Communications Program[edit]

Public Outreach and Communications aims to increase public awareness about the realities of human trafficking in the United States and build local capacity to combat human trafficking by engaging media, community members, and key stakeholders in anti-trafficking activities on the local and national levels. Program efforts focus on awareness-raising, state and federal policy advocacy, and education about resources and services available through the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC).

Legal services[edit]

Polaris Project launched its legal service program in October 2006 to provide in-house legal services to victims of human trafficking. Polaris Project also refers cases to a Legal Referral Network of pro bono attorneys who have volunteered their valuable time to serve survivors of human trafficking.


Since its founding, Polaris Project has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for its achievements including: Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Marie Claire’s 10 Best Charities, the 2006 Justice for Victims of Crime Award given by the Department of Justice, the DO Something BRICK award, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation Leadership Award 2004, and honors from Lifetime Television, Body Shop, and CNN.


The Polaris Project was founded in 2002 by Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon. Ellerman and Chon were seniors at Brown University when they were inspired to create this non-profit organization which focuses on ending human trafficking and modern day slavery. The two were inspired by to start the organization after learning about a forced labor criminal case which exposed how six South Korean women were forced to work at a brothel in Providence, Rhode Island. [2]. The organization is committed to ending human trafficking and slavery by working to abolish human slavery in the United States and Japan. [3]


Both government and non-government associations have worked to end human trafficking and slavery. Some organizations and movements include The CNN Freedom Project [4], various department of justice sections such as Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section CEOS, the Civil Rights Division, Bureau of Justice Assistance BJA, Office of Justice Statistics BJS, Office of Victims of Crime OVC, National Institute of Justice NIJ, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention OJJDP, Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI, within the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS, within the Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons G/TIP, Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, and within the Department of Labor, the Labor Bureau of International Labor ILAB, and Wage and Hour Division WHD. [5].

Primary U.S Trafficking Networks[edit]

Asian Massage Parlors

Latino Residential Brothels

New Jersey/New York Russian Driving Networks

Board of Directors[edit]

Derek Ellerman- Chairperson/Co-Founder

Katherine Chon- President/ Co-Founder

Thomas Lockerby- Treasurer/ Vice President for Development

Mei-Mei Ellerman- Ph.D/ Resident Scholar

Carolyn Batholomew- JD/Comissioner

Elizabeth Eun- Partner

Sarah Devine- Board Emeritus/ Senior Associate [6]

See also[edit]


The Polaris Project is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent modern day slavery and human trafficking. The organization was named after the North Star that led slaves to freedom from the United States south to northern safe grounds on the route commonly referred to as the Underground Railroad prior to the civil war. Currently the Polaris Project works directly with victims, hosts tip and crisis hotlines and offers solutions to those victimized by human trafficking. The Polaris Project also works directly at developing law enforcement relations to allow for proactive work, not just reactive victim assistance. [7]


Category:Organizations opposed to human trafficking Category:Non-governmental organizations based in the United States Category:Non-governmental organizations based in Japan Category:Organizations established in 2002

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