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.
Project Mislead - Manu Onteeru
Recognizing how a "silent epidemic" of lead and heavy metal poisoning was more significantly impacting BIPOC communities, Manu created Project Mislead, a youth-led education program for the most affected communities.
Nina and her teammates are medical students at New York University, studying to become doctors. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached New York City and residents were forced to isolate themselves, she and her peers worried about healthcare professionals and ordinary people across the city who struggled to access accurate and timely information about the virus and how to stay safe. Through Peace First's COVID-19 Rapid Response grant program, Nina and her team received a $250 grant to cover costs to develop and maintain the NYCOVID Connect website and resources for the broader New York community.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Grace worried about the significant numbers of young people,specifically those in high school and college, who have had summer experiential opportunities, that are critical to being fully ready to be problem solvers in the working world,disrupted. Young people are fully immersed in the problems relevant to their communities brought on by COVID-19, but are not engaged as meaningful participants in addressing those challenges because of their age.
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.