Where We Work: US and Canada
Since launching the Peace First Challenge in the United States on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2017, we’ve helped young people around the country lead transformative social change - mobilizing against gun violence, working for racial justice and equity in their schools and communities, and creating innovative solutions to our mental health epidemic. A network of hundreds of partner organizations across the US - from schools to advocacy groups - helps to connect young people with our programs. We’ve gone on tour with Lady Gaga helping young people lead projects defined by bravery, kindness, and inclusion on the day of her concerts; we’ve run nationwide social change challenges with America’s Promise Alliance, the Allstate Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation, and we’ve hosted Accelerators to help young people from across the country scale their innovative solutions to injustices in their communities. Recently, we launched a program to provide funding, coaching, and community to young Black leaders working for racial justice. In 2020, we began funding our first projects in Canada.
Every year, siblings Anya and Karsen help their Taiwanese-American grandparents vote. Even before Anya turned 18, she would run through her grandparents' ballots, research every candidate, and impartially explain their priorities and policy positions in Chinese. Over time, Anya and Karsen realized that it is difficult and time-consuming to find information on all candidates, especially those in school board and city council elections. It can sometimes take hours to compile information on candidates, which is time that many Americans don't have.
Growing up in America, Sualeha, Moniola, and Sora -- three high school students and young women of color -- witnessed firsthand the racial biases that exacerbate inequalities for minority groups. Brought together across different parts of the US by their shared interest in technology and software development, the team decided to tackle the Sustainable Development Goal of Peace and Equity in a competition for the Moody's Foundation Peace and Justice Challenge.
In 2020, when COVID-19 forced Kyle and his peers to isolate in their homes, he realized that despite the challenges in his own life, many people in his community were experiencing greater suffering because of their socioeconomic and/or citizenship status. Even though food banks and public schools offered free meals for kids in need, Kyle realized that something vital was being overlooked -- diapers.
Fellow in Residence & Regional Manager, US & Canada
Brennan Lewis (they/them)
In 2015, Brennan joined the Peace First community as a Fellow and recipient of the Peace First Prize for their statewide work with LGBTQ youth across North Carolina through QueerNC. Their previous roles include working as an organizer for Equality North Carolina and internships with the Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs team in D.C. and the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality. Brennan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Public Policy and Women’s and Gender Studies. This is the second year participating as a Fellows-in-Residence.