The U.S. Institute of Peace is pleased to announce the winners of its first-ever Youth and Peacebuilding Grants Competition. The competition was held among the members, worldwide, of USIP’s Generation Change Fellows Program. The Institute is using this competition to increase the numbers and the scale of critical peacebuilding initiatives that are led by, and focused on, youth. Youth-led peacebuilding work is critical among the 1.8 billion people worldwide living in countries that face violent conflicts or crises that threaten violence. The populations of such countries have some of the world’s highest proportions of youth.
While societies and media often focus on youth only as perpetrators or victims of violence, young people are highly effective in work to build more peaceful, just societies. They bring a deep understanding of the grievances affecting youth, and they apply highly localized, youth-informed solutions. Yet youth-led peacebuilding organizations are underfunded. A recent survey of 400 such groups found half of them operating on budgets of less than $5,000 per year. This limits many of these efforts to short-term, one-time projects. USIP’s new grants will help highly effective groups pursue longer-term goals and achieve greater impact. These organizations will receive funding:
- Central African Republic (CAR): URU. This non-profit organization (its Sango-language name means “Jump”) has promoted peacebuilding and the leadership of young women. USIP’s grant will fund the group to research young women’s roles in building peace in CAR, highlighting the barriers they face and opportunities to enhance partnerships with their efforts to attain peace and security. The findings will be directed to inform policy decisions by the country’s youth and gender ministries.
- South Sudan: I AM PEACE, Peace Palette, and Conflict Transformation for Development. These three organizations will collaborate in an initiative to oppose political and tribal tensions and violence. USIP’s grant will fund this collaborative use of media and public storytelling—including the partnership’s widely broadcast radio shows, to reduce hate speech and promote peaceful coexistence throughout South Sudan.
- Nigeria: One African Child, Youth Coalition Against Terrorism, and Wadi Ben Hirki Foundation. Led by women youth leaders in Nigeria, these three civil society organizations will collaborate to promote trust and empathy among Nigeria’s ethnic and religious communities. This grant funds youth-led programs to help teachers facilitate peace education in northern and southern Nigeria. The teacher training will offer new pedagogical approaches that promote dialogue and peacebuilding skills, while addressing causes of violent extremism.
- Pakistan: Khadim Ul Khalaq Foundation. Young civic leaders in Pakistan’s northwestern border region founded this organization (its name in Urdu means “Servant of Humanity”) in response to the rise of extremism and the Taliban. Through the energies of hundreds of volunteer members, it works to integrate peace education into Pakistan’s national education curriculum. USIP’s grant funds a program to achieve that integration in the Khyber District, a strategic area on the Afghan border where extremist organizations recruit youth as members. The curriculum will increase critical thinking skills among youth and thus reduce the effectiveness of violent narratives that such groups use for recruitment.
- Afghanistan: Social Development & Hopes for Peace. This civil society group opposes the violence and tribal tensions amid Afghanistan’s war by fostering acceptance, inclusion and a culture of peace among youth in rural districts. This USIP grant funds youth-led peace education programs in 12 schools in the province of Herat. The program also will train teachers and students to research local conflicts and ways to resolve them.
- Tunisia: Fanni Raghman Anni. Led by two Tunisian Generation Change Fellows, this group uses art, performance and public debate to counter social marginalization and build civic engagement among youth. This grant funds youth-led peacebuilding programs to prevent radicalization among young Tunisians vulnerable to violent extremist narratives. The programs will engage such youth in civic education, conflict resolution and advocacy.
- Colombia: Somos CaPAZes. Young Colombians created this nonprofit organization (its name declares “We are Capable”) to build peace, with a focus on youth and women. As Colombia works towards achieving stability from decades of civil war and problems in governance, this group empowers young women to lead grassroots civic movements for peace. This USIP grant funds a program to train hundreds of young women to lead peacebuilding programs in their home communities across Colombia.
- Uganda: Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum and Akougook Initiative. These organizations will collaborate to research strategies to increase participation and leadership in peacebuilding by youth among the more than 840,000 South Sudanese refugees—including thousands of unaccompanied children—in Uganda. This initiative will focus on refugee camps, where the Akougook Initiative has already been delivering public health services to women and children.