Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.
GEMS was founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd, a young woman who had been commercially sexually exploited as a teenager. Ms. Lloyd came to the U.S in 1997 as a missionary to work with adult women exiting the commercial sex industry. While working with adult women in correctional facilities and on the streets, Ms. Lloyd observed the overwhelming need for services for young women at risk for sexual exploitation who were being ignored by traditional social service agencies. It became clear that specialized services were essential for this disenfranchised population.
From a one-woman kitchen table project, GEMS has grown to a nationally recognized and acclaimed organization and now is one of the largest providers of services to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked youth in the US. GEMS advocates at the local, state, and national level to promote policies that support young women who have been commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked.