When Paula Clapp was presented with the opportunity to invest in a film called SOLD about sex trafficking of children in Nepal and India, her eyes were opened to an entire underworld—not only globally, but at home as well.
“I learned that there are currently between 300 and 500 prostituted youth in Seattle/King County,” she says.
Unwilling to turn her back on children who had no voice and whose freedom had been stolen, Paula acted quickly, getting together with the nine other women who had invested in SOLD to form Stolen Youth, an organization that could help protect exploited youth in the Seattle area.
Born and raised in Washington state, Paula first came to understand injustice when her parents took her to Mexico.
She says, “I was exposed to the smell of poverty…burning garbage and people begging on the streets.
That trip was one of the greatest teaching moments in my life, and I experienced an awakening in me to be aware and present to the suffering of others.” In her late 30s, as a single mother of three, Paula’s desire to create positive change in the world inspired her to take up study at Antioch University.
Ultimately, she earned a master’s degree in counseling and began her career as a middle school counselor.
An unexpected trip to El Salvador in 1992 reawakened her early childhood memories of Mexico, and one year after her return from that trip Paula and her husband Bill formed Global Partnerships, a nonprofit that raises money to fund micro-finance and other projects in developing countries, especially in Latin America.
Global Partnerships has since grown to serve 13 countries and more than one million families.
In 2007, Paula and Bill formed the Seattle International Foundation, a private foundation that provides grants for philanthropy in Seattle as well as projects in Central America that help promote international development and awareness.
Paula and Bill still serve on the board of Global Partnerships and are the leaders of their foundation.
However, it’s clear that Stolen Youth is Paula’s passion.