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When Brennan Lewis won the Peace First prize in October, it brought them and their work into the national spotlight. But that work was already well-known and well-appreciated in the area that it so uniquely serves: North Carolina. Having started the group QueerNC when they were just in high school, Lewis sought to provide LGBTQ youths in their historically closed-minded home state with resources that they couldn't find anywhere else--information, education, acceptance, support, and safety. Talking to the ambitious advocate, it's easy to tell just how much they care about the wellbeing of every LGBTQ person out there, how much they believe in today's youth, and how much they love North Carolina and want it to be somewhere queer people don't feel they have to escape.
Fish Stark, 25, works as the global director of programs at Peace First. Peace First has created a year-long fellowship that allows individuals in their early 20s to develop skills for working in social justice long-term, mobilizing other young people in their communities with career-transition support, competitive pay, and professional development funding.
Hard to believe it’s been four years since Wei Chen emerged into the spotlight, then an 18-year-old senior at South Philly High who had witnessed too much violence against Asian students and decided he wasn’t going to take it anymore. His efforts resulted in new administration at the school and a renewed focus on violence across the district.
On December 3, 2009, about 30 students at South Philadelphia High School were brutally attacked by their classmates during school. About 13 were sent to the emergency room. The victims were all Asian, many of them recent immigrants from China.
Few anticipated the turnout at this year’s Misk Global Forum (MGF) in Riyadh. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pulled its sponsorship, the agenda and list of speakers remained a mystery until hours before the event began. The Kingdom, having recently fallen out of favour with several western powers, led many to believe the third MGF would be a feeble or chaotic event, an echo of the Future Investment Initiative held last month in the capital.
Peace First, a New Profit grantee and partner in the Reimagine Learning Fund, exists to create the next generation of “peacemakers” -- youth who are taking action in schools and communities to create greater understanding, cooperation and engagement for societal benefit.
“It’s not enough to teach a group of young people a set of skills, and then send them off into a world that doesn’t acknowledge them —and worse, actually undermines their 'peacemaking' efforts,” offered Peace First President Eric Dawson.
17 July 2018: During an event organized by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Permanent Mission, in collaboration with the World Bank Group and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), participants discussed the Global Councils on SDGs and initiatives put in place by these Councils to make progress on the Goals.
The event titled, ‘The Future of Government and Implications for Agenda 2030: Introducing the Global Councils on SDGs,’ took place on the sidelines of the 2018 UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF), on 17 July 2018.
With so much up in the air during the Covid pandemic, leaders are being asked to simultaneously navigate uncertainty (when we don’t have the information we need) and ambiguity (when the best outcome is a matter of interpretation). We can’t reduce uncertainty to zero, but we can arm ourselves with as much information as possible to help us make a decision. With ambiguity, however, there is no “right” or “wrong” decision; our choice ultimately depends on our values. So when you need to navigate ambiguity, the best thing to do is to start with your vision of success and work backwards to figure out how you’ll get there
“This is not your grandfather’s peace movement. It’s black, it’s queer, it’s trans, it’s Latinx. We’re redefining not only who is at the table, but who is at the head of the table,” Fish Stark, youth activation manager at Peace First, said onstage at the Peace First Summit at Florence Gould Hall in New York City.
Peace First’s inaugural real-world event included young changemakers, advocates, activists, and storytellers from all around the world who gathered together in New York City on September 16. The goal of the summit was ultimately to inspire people to rethink how we define and create peace.
Wei Chen, 20, is the recipient of a $50,000 peace-activist grant. He speaks at a City Hall press conference attended by Eric Dawson, President and founder of Peace First, and Mayor Michael Nutter on December 19, 2013.
He's a leader among young Asian immigrants, an explorer of activist ideals, a part-time teacher of Chinese opera, a son of South Philadelphia by way of Fujian province.
And on Thursday, he was honoured at City Hall, praised by Mayor Nutter as "a champion of peace."