Sunlight Project

Through education, advocacy, and empowerment, the Sunlight Project of Fourth Presbyterian Church seeks to end commercial sexual exploitation in Chicago.

About the Project | Facts about Sex Trafficking
What We Can Do | Upcoming Sunlight Project Events
Project History | Project Partners
| Contact

About the Project

Every year, as many as 2.8 million youth run away in the United States. Within 48 hours, about one-third are recruited into the underground world of prostitution and pornography, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Other youth in foreign countries—often teenage girls—are transported into the United States or into other countries specifically for prostitution. Worldwide, the numbers are astonishing: the global market for youth trafficking reaches more than $12 billion per year, with some 1.2 million youth victims.

The Sunlight Project of Fourth Presbyterian Church has joined efforts to end these crimes. The Sunlight Project supports agencies that work with at-risk youths and raises awareness about youth sex trafficking in Chicago, as well as new legislation and other efforts to combat this crime.

As people of faith, members of the Sunlight Project want to do as much as possible to bring healing to victims of youth sex trafficking, help police and social services rescue those who are still trapped in this world of exploitation, and support law enforcement efforts that prosecute criminals and prevent these crimes from happening in the future.

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Facts about Sex Trafficking

  • Every 40 seconds, a child in the US goes missing or is abducted.
  • One out of three teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within forty-eight hours of leaving home.
  • Thirteen is the average age that those who are exploited enter into the commercial sex trade.
  • On any given day, up to 24,000 women and girls are involved in the sex trade industry in Chicago alone.
  • For cities in which there is a significant sexual trafficking presence, Chicago ranks number six. It is a national hub for human trafficking and child prostitution.
  • Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the US, overtaking drug trafficking.
  • It happens in every neighborhood in Chicago, in every suburb, and along major travel routes.

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What We Can Do

Love, Listen, Educate

Know . . .
. . . that, if sex trafficking directly impacts you, you are loved and that prayers, resources, and hearts are for you.

Serve . . .
. . . by helping us sponsor, host, and support educational events, fundraisers, a Drop-in Center, advocacy and letter-writing campaigns, collaboration with Chicago organizations dedicated to ending sex-trafficking, supporting law enforcement, and helping survivors.

Committee Service Opportunities

  • Administrative Subcommittee: This committee is responsible for preparing the monthly committee agenda in coordination with the chairperson, keeping the minutes and all documentation in order, and maintaining the contact database.
  • Community Engagement Subcommittee: This committee is responsible for researching community activities and events regarding trafficking issues, keeping an updated calendar of events, as well as, reaching out to other organizations to promote collaboration. Subcommittee Chair: Elaine Heirholzer
  • Direct Service Subcommittee: This committee focuses on addressing practical needs of those who are affected by trafficking. Examples of past projects include toiletry and clothing drives and recruiting oliciting volunteers for the Stop-It Hotline and Drop-In Center.
  • PR Marketing Subcommittee: This committee is responsible for helping to coordinate the marketing materials distributed and for project communications. Examples include Sunlight Project information card content, speeches presented to groups interested in learning more about the project, materials used when events are hosted by Sunlight Project.
  • Educational Events Subcommittee: This committee is responsible for organizing Sunlight Project educational events for the Fourth Church congregation and local community. Examples include panel events, guest speakers, movie screenings, labyrinth walks, and discussion groups. 

Donate . . .
. . . to support the Stop-It Drop-In Center, which works with and supports those who are survivors of human trafficking. These items, marked “Sunlight Project,” can be left at the church reception desk at 126 E. Chestnut.

  • Hygiene products
    Body lotion
    Body wash
    Bar soap
    Baby powder
    Baby wipes
    Cotton swabs
    Hair ties
    Bobby pins
    Shower caps
    Contact solution
  • Ventra Cards (single-ride cards with $3 or more on them)
  • Gift cards for Food 4 Less, Walmart, and Sav-A-Lot
  • Drop-in Center Supplies
    Bags of chips
    Fruit snacks
    Fruit leather
    Trail mix
    Water bottles
    Soda (Sprite, orange soda, and Coke are favorites; not many clients drink diet soda; 2-liter bottles are preferred for cost-effectiveness)
  • Craft Supplies
    Paint, paint brushes, canvas boards
    Yarn, knitting needles, embroidery thread
    Old magazines, paper
    Anything fun and crafty
  • Meals
    Gift cards to Instacart or Peapod
    Gift cards to Potbelly, Chick-Fil-A, or anywhere that delivers

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Upcoming Sunlight Project Events

Check back in the coming weeks for details about future events.

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Project History, Activities, and Accomplishments

Sunlight Project was formally established at Fourth Church by the Mission Committee in 2010 after an overwhelmingly positive response to a panel presentation including representatives from CAASE (Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation), Dreamcatcher Foundation, Salvation Army’s Stop-It, Initiative against Human Trafficking, and National Runaway Safeline.

Though a very young committee, Sunlight Project can boast an impressive list of activities and accomplishments.


  • Third Annual Conference of the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force (national and statewide participants)
  • Public screening of Very Young Girls, a film produced by GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, NYC)
  • Panel presentation featuring Michael Anton, Commander of the Cook County Sheriff’s Vice Unit, and a representative from Stop-It
  • Panel presentation featuring a representative from Stop-It, a representative from Sunlight Project, and Commander William Leen, Cook County Sheriff’s Police Special Operations/Vice
  • Public presentation by Cook County Sheriff’s Sex Trafficking Task Force
  • Courtyard Vigil with SAGE (Survivor Advocacy Group Empowered), a program of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
  • Labyrinth walk in Buchanan Chapel
  • Special event featuring Elizabeth Fisher, CEO of Selah Freedom


  • $6,000 to Selah Freedom’s Chicago launch to build residential facilities for survivors
  • $500 to Dreamcatcher Foundation
  • Stove, meals, and ongoing financial support for the Salvation Army’s Stop-It Drop-In Center
  • Toiletries for survivors

Presented to

  • Fourth Church Mission Committee
  • Presbyterian Women at Fourth Church
  • Fourth Church congregation, with a Sunday worship Minute for Mission
  • Blue Bow Kickoff of National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • Chicago Presbytery, moderating a conference
  • Fourth Church Associate Pastor Vicky Curtiss servied as narrator for Her Story, a play depicting victims of sex trafficking


  • Trained youth at Salvation Army’s youth conference
  • Candle fundraiser
  • Three committee members completed eighteen-hour training for Stop-It’s hotline
  • Participated in the Gratz Center 2013 grand opening
  • Co-sponsored a workshop presented to Chicago Lights seventh through ninth grade male students educating them in character development and social constructs of masculinity in today's culture.

Ongoing advocacy as opportunities present

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Sunlight Project Partners

Selah Freedom         
Cook County Sheriff’s Department

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Child Sex Trafficking Study Resources


Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves
   —Kevin Bales

The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today
   —Kevin Bales & Ron Soodalter

Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade
   —David Batstone

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
   —Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn

Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution
   —Jody Raphael

Caught in the Web: Inside the Police Hunt to Rescue Children
   from Online Predators

   —Julian Sher

Somebody’s Daughter: The Hidden Story of America’s Prostituted Children
   and the Battle to Save Them

   —Julian Sher

Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children (A Call to Action)
   --Linda Smith

Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography
   —(eds.) Christine Stark & Rebecca Whisnant

Articles and Research

“The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth in Illinois”
   —Jessica Ashley, IL Criminal Justice Information Authority

“The John Next Door”
   —Leslie Bennetts, Newsweek, July 25, 2011

“The Realities of Human Trafficking in Cook County: Strategies for Ending the Exploitation of Women and Girls”
   —Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues

Advancing a Human Rights Based Approach to Addressing Human Trafficking
   —Rev. Noelle Damico, March 18, 2009,
      Keynote for the Freedom Network USA Human Trafficking Conference

Deconstructing the Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights from Interviews
   with Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex
   —Rachel Durchslag & Samir Goswami,
      Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, May 2008

Joining the Battle Against Sexual Exploitation of Children (ECPAT-USA)
   (Horizons Magazine, March/April 2010)
   —Sara Friedman

Buying Sex: A Survey of Men in Chicago
   --Samir Goswami, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Gearing Up
   —Angelica Herrera

Sex-Trafficking Bust
   —Rummana Hussain & Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 25, 2011

First Conviction of Human Trafficking Initiative
   —Gailann Jarocki, February 10, 2011

Collateral Damage: The Impact of Anti-Trafficking Measures on Human Rights
   around the World

   —Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Shackles in Our Midst: How to Recognize Trafficking
   (Horizons Magazine, March/April 2010)
   —Kacie MacDonald

Allegations Link U.S. Companies to Brazilian Sex Tourism
   —Barry Meier

Why They Run: An In-Depth Look at America’s Runaway Youth
   —National Runaway Switchboard, May 2010

UN Human Rights Council Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on
   trafficking in persons, especially women and children

   —Joy Ngozi Ezeilo

Domestic Sex Trafficking of Chicago Women and Girls
   —Jody Raphael, DePaul University of Law, and Jessica Ashley, Illinois Criminal
      Justice Information Authority, May 2008

Interviews with Five Ex-Pimps in Chicago
   —Jody Raphael, DePaul University of Law, and Brenda Myers-Powell,       Dreamcatcher Foundation

Sisters Speak Out: The Lives and Needs of Prostituted Women in Chicago
   —Jody Raphael & Deborah Shapiro, Center for Impact Research

Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States
   —Janice Raymond & Donna Hughes, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking:
   America’s Prostituted Children

   —Shared Hope International, May 2009

The Intersystem Assessment on Prostitution in Chicago
   —Emily Sweet, Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence

Pathways into and out of Commercial Sexual Victimization of Children:    Understanding and Responding to Sexually Exploited Teens
   —Linda Williams & Mary Frederick, Dept. of Criminal Justice and Criminology,
      University of MA

Additional Resources

The Abolitionist Church Handbook
   —Not For Sale, 2007

Demand Change: 10 Actions X 10 Issues = 100 Steps Towards Ending
   Sexual Exploitation
   —Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

Engaging Protestant Communities in Ending Sexual Exploitation:
   A Toolkit and Resource Guide
   —Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, 2010

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For more information about the Sunlight Project,
please contact Nancy Davis (312.274.3815).