Grantee Spotlight: New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault

Grantee spotlight Emily Miles NYCAASA

At RALIANCE, we are always interested in hearing from our grantees and learning more about how they’re interacting with the communities they serve. We spoke recently with Emily Miles, executive director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault was founded in 1999 with a mission to prevent sexual violence and reduce the harm it causes through education, research, and advocacy. It provides training and technical assistance to medical professionals, the criminal justice system, and community-based organizations; works with youth on college campuses across the five boroughs; and works on policy, advocacy and research in order to try to address macro level changes that need to occur in order to support survivors and the organizations that serve them.

The NYCAASA received a RALIANCE grant in 2021 that helped them reinvigorate existing programs following the COVID-19 pandemic.

RALIANCE: Can you tell us a little bit about how the RALIANCE grant helped support efforts within your organization?

Miles: The RALIANCE grant came at an interesting time for the Alliance. We were struggling as an organization because of COVID-19, and some of the impact that was having on our funding and the needs of our programs.

The Alliance shut down temporarily in the summer of 2021 prior to my starting, and in the fall of 2021 restarted again. The funding from RALIANCE actually allowed that restart to happen, as well as the rest of our programs, like Project Dot, which is our youth leadership-based sexual violence prevention program that we received funding from RALIANCE to support. This funding allowed that program to get back up on its feet, and then to adapt to the needs of youth during COVID-19. So, having to rely more on a virtual space and bringing in technology into the work. This grant allowed us to pivot in that way in order to continue our work and be responsive to the needs of youth during that time.

RALIANCE: There was a recent CDC report about the uptick in sexual attacks against teen girls. Are you seeing any similar trends in New York? 

Miles: The data was, I think, surprising to a lot of people who don’t work in the space, but not as surprising to people who do this work. The data, I believe, said that one in five teenage girls have recently experienced sexual violence, and that number was up by 20% since 2017. But we know, based on national data, that youth experience sexual violence at higher rates than almost anyone else.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey has the data that one in four women and one in 26 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. But we know of those numbers, 80% of female survivors report that that first victimization happens before the age of 25, 49% before the age of 18. So we’ve already known from this data that there are incredibly high rates of sexual violence occurring among youth. So again, not surprised, but glad that it was receiving national attention, and that people were finally actually talking about it.

RALIANCE: What can be done to address and decrease the rates of violence against youth, especially young women? 

Miles: We’ve seen those stories of sexual violence and seen them play out with the youth that we work with. We have seen increased rates of violence among young women or female-identified youth, but also among the LGBTQ+ population as well. We see that happening in person, but we’ve also seen a major increase in cyber sexual violence during this time. 

We keep seeing these pervasively high numbers of rates of violence among youth, and now we’re seeing the numbers go the wrong way. We’re not seeing the decline that we’re hoping for. If we ever want to see that, what we need to be doing as a society is focusing on prevention: how do we have conversations with youth about healthy boundaries, healthy relationships, consent, and how to say no and hear no from a partner?

And understanding that those conversations don’t start as a teenager. Those conversations start when someone is very young, in preschool and in kindergarten – conversations about what does it mean to be a good friend, and how to have boundaries with children and their family members.

We also talk to the adults and the decision-makers around youth, using this data as a way of highlighting the need for them to invest in comprehensive prevention and comprehensive sexual education.

RALIANCE: How can people who live in New York City help be part of the solution to prevent and address sexual violence in their communities?

Miles: Picking up off my last comment, New York state actually doesn’t have a mandate for comprehensive sex education in public schools. New York City does have a requirement for sex education, but no mandate for what that curriculum should look like. So, it varies dramatically from school to school to school, as a society, as a city. 

We need to stand up and demand this type of prevention education for our youth because that’s the only way that we’re going to see these numbers go in the direction that we want. So comprehensive, age-appropriate prevention and sexual education for our all youth. We’ve seen data show that these types of programs do make the changes that we want to see.

It’s also listening to youth and their experience. They are the experts in their world. They are the best mouthpiece to their peers, so it’s really a matter of looking at their expertise, listening to them, and lifting up their voices as experts in their own experience.


RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit

The RALIANCE Grant Program has supported more than 75 sexual violence prevention projects with a total of $3.2 million in grant funding from the National Football League (NFL). The majority of the grant projects funded to date were awarded to programs serving people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, religious minorities, immigrants, young people, and others who often are heavily impacted by sexual violence yet historically overlooked by funders. Learn more at


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