Peace First was founded at Harvard University over 20 years ago with a simple idea: if we are going to do anything worthwhile as a country to create a more just society – end violence, protect our environment, raise graduation rates, ensure everyone has food to eat and a place to sleep – the single most powerful act we must do is prepare a generation of young people with the skills and commitments to be audacious problem-solvers. What we call peacemaking.
Peacemaking requires three commitments: to connect across lines of difference with compassion, to stand up for others and ideals with courage, and to create collaborative change, providing opportunities for others to lead and change.
We are a national nonprofit organization that exists to create the next generation of peacemakers by preparing young people to solve problems courageously, compassionately, and collaboratively. We believe that it is possible – and necessary - to shift our culture from one of violence, intolerance, and hatred to one of peace. We also believe that young people areideally positioned to create a culture of peace because of their natural inclination towards tolerance and compassion, their openness to and creativity in developing new ideas, and their historic role as culture creators.
Our Vision: To create a cultural counterweight to the violence, intolerance, and hatred so prevalent in our world. The shift will be powered by a community of 2.5 million young people who self-identify as peacemakers, feel connected to one another, and are engaged to act in bold and courageous ways.
Our Plan: Peace First will focus on three major levers
1. Define the Cause: Position youth peacemaking as absolutely essential by connecting to young people’s deeply held beliefs through powerful stories.
2. Find and Cultivate Leaders: Identify, celebrate, and support amazing young peacemakers who will, in turn, motivate other young people to put peace first. We will identify and celebrate extraordinary exemplars of peacemakers through the Peace First Prize, expanding the Prize network to find diverse exemplars and then recognizing 50 youth per year who have movement-building potential.
3. Issue the Invitation: Invite, engage, and activate 2.5 million young people to put peace first in their daily lives. These young people will be part of a digitally connected community of fellow youth committed to putting peace first.