The Global Fight Against Child Prostitution Gains an Unlikely Ally

The Annenberg Foundation funds a number of causes, including the arts, education, conservation, and marine research—with a lot of that money staying in the Los Angeles area. However, with assets around $1.7 billion and grantmaking of over $100 million annually, it’s not unusual for this foundation to wander into other issue areas, toosay, like the fight against child prostitution.

The Annenberg Foundation recently awarded Children of the Night a 15-month, $50,000 grant to support the organization’s global program to fight child prostitution. Prior to launching that program (which still seems to be in the formative stages), Children of the Night focused strictly on child prostitution throughout the United States. The organization has a 24-hour hotline and works closely with law enforcement agencies to get these exploited and vulnerable children off the streets. Children of the Night also provides transportation costs to the kids wishing to escape a life of prostitution by coming to live at the Children of the Night home.

Children of the Night is reportedly “the only full-service program in North America designed specifically for American children who have been forced into prostitution right here in the United States.” The organization provides aid to both girls and boys. Very little information has been released regarding Children of the Night’s planned global program other than founder Dr. Lois Lee’s ongoing commitment to help victims of sex trafficking around the world.

This grim issue has received quite a bit of traction with funders over recent years. For example, we've written about the Greenbaum Foundation's interest in this area, as well as the NoVo Foundation's work on human slavery worldwide. We've also covered the growth in funding to combat sex trafficking in the United States, some of which has been anonymous. And in related reporting, we've looked at grants that address the issues of sex workers. 

All of which is to say that philanthropy seems to have a much greater consciousness now, than in the past, about the vast sexual underworld that exists in the United States and globally, along with an interest in addressing the challenges in that space. That said, we're still talking about grant dollars on a small scale. 

As for the Annenberg Foundation, it's a somewhat edgier funder than you might think. While this foundation is mainly associated with local giving in Los Angeles, and a familiar brand of civic leadership that's involved putting its name on many buildings in the county, Annenberg isn't afraid to confront the darker side of society, whether in its home region or beyond. Another recent Annenberg grant went to the Rape Foundation, a local organization, for its work on meeting the needs of sexually abused children and their families. 

Last year, for example, the foundation awarded a 15-month, $100,000 grant to the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing Corporation (GLEH) in Hollywood. The grant supports GLEHs affordable housing and comprehensive care programs for the areas elderly LGBT community.

Related: How the Annenberg Foundation Supports LA’s Aging LGBT Population