The Peace Exchange

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Peace Exchange is a youth-led, education-focused, and highly collaborative initiative that equips and empowers young people in Chicago to be leaders, role models, mentors, and peacemakers.
Last updated: April 2020

Operating under the auspices of Holy Family Ministries, The Peace Exchange’s Peace Builder program is an innovative leadership development program for young adults dedicated to peace and nonviolence in Chicago communities. Community-based, focused on education, and led by its Peace Builders, the Peace Exchange includes transformational international travel, cross-cultural experiences, and outreach to neighborhood youth.

Established in November 2012 as a program of Holy Family Ministries, our leadership development program focuses on young Chicago leaders--Peace Builders--committed to peace and nonviolence.

Their year-long curriculum begins with 80 hours of Chicago-based study on topics ranging from bullying and teen dating violence to tolerance and restorative justice. Upon completion of the first phase, the Peace Builders take a two-week international trip accompanied by documentary filmmakers. While abroad, they participate in cross-cultural exchanges with community organizers, student leaders, and peace activists.

The program's third phase is Giving Back!, a post-trip outreach in which the Peace Builders share their stories, a documentary film, and tips on peaceful practices with at least 1000 neighborhood youth. Through these meetings, Peace Builders establish relationships that enable them to lead, educate, mentor, model behavior, and nurture peace in their communities.

When we read in that our West Side North Lawndale community was on the publication’s list of the nation’s 25 most dangerous neighborhoods, we committed ourselves to changing the narrative. Our response was the Peace Exchange, an innovative youth-led, education-focused, and highly collaborative initiative that equips and empowers young Chicagoans to be leaders, role models, mentors, and peacemakers.

The Peace Exchange consists of two programs: 1) a yearlong Peace Builder leadership development program for young adults, ages 17-22, from Chicago’s West and South Side communities, and 2) Speaking Peace, a multi-session course that teaches tolerance, nonviolence, and peacemaking to urban Chicago elementary school students.

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