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Carissa Phelps

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Who is Carissa Phelps

In 2012, Carissa Phelps founded Runaway Girl, Inc., a social purpose corporation (then flexible purpose corporation), to organize survivors of human trafficking around resources, networks, business, and local efforts to protect and care for survivors and victims within their own communities. Runaway Girl trainings improve protocols and responses to child sex trafficking within communities, while offering employment and career development opportunities to runaways, former runaways, and survivors of trafficking.

Carissa holds both a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law, and an MBA from UCLA Anderson. In 2010, she was named one of the top 100 inspirational graduates by UCLA Anderson. In her memoir, Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time, Phelps shares how the unexpected kindness of a math teacher and a counselor transformed her life and helped her become a mentor and advocate. After missing 7th, 8th and 9th grades, Carissa returned to a continuation school and graduated from high school in two and a half years. She still loves math and credits her BA in mathematics from Fresno State for preparing her for her MBA, for business, and for life! She graduated in 2002 with a BA in mathematics summa cum laude from Fresno State, and taught high school math for one year at Hanford High School. Carissa is admitted to practice law in California. She lives on the Central Coast of California, where she creates and contributes to positive impact businesses as a social entrepreneur. She is passionate about inspiring others to see the potential in themselves and others.

Carissa is “CEO” Creating Employment Opportunities with Runaway Girl, Inc. the first of its kind training and consulting social purpose company in the state of California. Runaway Girl, Inc., offers high quality experiential trainings to improve outcomes for youth in communities, by supporting and enhancing local efforts to protect and care for those at-risk. For more information visit: runawaygirl.net

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Runaway Girl Book

Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time

Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life. Like the multimillion-copy bestseller The Glass Castle, this memoir moves us through the power of its unflinching candor and generosity.

Runaway Girl by Carissa Phelps

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Reviews & Praise for Runaway Girl

“A brave memoir.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This devastatingly honest memoir is not for the fainthearted . . . Kafka famously wrote, ‘A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.’ Runaway Girl just might become such a book. [Phelps] gives the reader valuable insight into a problem that is larger than most people realize.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.”
Kirkus Reviews

Runaway Girl may break your heart but I promise it will ultimately awe and inspire you. No child should have to endure what Carissa did, but thousands do. Her story is a testimony to the resilience of these children and the difference a caring individual can make in their lives. If you have any doubts whether one person can make a difference in the life of a traumatized, ‘delinquent,’ young person, Runaway Girl should put them to rest.”
—Dr. Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice, Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and author of What Will Happen to Me?

“Runaway Girl demonstrates a great amount of insight and maturity. Crisp writing and perfectly chosen events highlight the story of what happens to the majority of twelve-year-olds on the street.”
School Library Journal, selected as a Best Adult Books for Teens of the Year

Runaway Girl by Carissa Phelps

The Documentary

Carissa - The Documentary

Carissa Phelps graduated with both a law degree and an MBA from UCLA. But when she was 12, she was kidnapped in an area known for prostitution in Fresno. This documentary short is Carissa’s journey as a young adult to face the places that had haunted her for too long.

“Carissa” has won jury prizes at seven film festivals and was featured in USA Today and on Good Morning America. The film is also Executive Produced by Davis Guggenheim, the Academy Award-winning director of “An Inconvenient Truth” and Jamie McCourt. The film was generously sponsored by Virgin Mobile’s RE*Generation campaign on behalf of youth who were homeless, and the Los Angeles Dodgers Dream Foundation.

The DVD comes with over 30 minutes of special features, including interviews with key figures from Carissa’s life, deleted scenes and director’s commentary and can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Click here to buy the film.

Watch the Trailer

Carissa Phelps

Attorney
Author
Advocate
Runaway Girl