Sharing joy and exploring Ghana with PeaceJam: How TPG is giving back and how you can help
Imagine the power of hundreds of children and teenagers surrounding you with pure, unconditional love. That's what TPG members experienced when we traveled to Accra, Ghana, with an organization called PeaceJam.
Our PeaceJam experience
PeaceJam is a nonprofit we've been working with since 2014. Its mission is to foster young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world. The organization encourages them with lessons and exercises inspired by the lives and work of Nobel Peace Prize laureates like the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
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"I’m proud that The Points Guy and Red Ventures support this," said TPG founder Brian Kelly, "because it's not just the kids that benefit from this program. I firmly believe it makes TPG employees more mindful of the world and that our business can be strong and also that the more we give the more we get back." Red Ventures is the parent company of TPG.
In fact, we've been on a yearslong mission to help the next generation of leaders in many countries, including Ghana.
Each PeaceJam conference features leadership training, group activities and usually a visit from a Nobel laureate.
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This year it was Tawakkol Karman, a pro-democracy journalist who stood up to an authoritarian ruler in Yemen. She eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize, and she co-founded the organization Women Journalists Without Chains.
TPG and PeaceJam also support and mentor exceptional young leaders. Back in 2018, we launched the Global Impact Youth Fellowship.
So far, we've sponsored more than 20 young leaders as “TPG fellows” who are chosen to receive financial support for higher education. Not only do they receive help paying their tuition and living costs, but each fellow is also matched with a TPG employee from whom they can get advice and guidance. They each have a mentor in the U.S. or the United Kingdom. When we visited Ghana, many of us met our mentees for the first time. I got to meet David Karmon, whom I've been mentoring virtually since 2020.
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"I would say PeaceJam means hope for the future," Karmon told me on the University of Ghana campus in Accra. "PeaceJam brings together young people, and transforms them, helping them to become change makers, helping the community to become better."
Karmon wants to take the leadership skills he's learned and someday give back to his native Liberia, perhaps by working at an organization like the World Bank.
TPG also helps fund and organize annual PeaceJam conferences in other countries such as Liberia, Guatemala and South Africa.
This conference wasn't just TPG fellows meeting their mentors for the first time face-to-face. It was also the first big gathering for many of the students at a PeaceJam event since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It was a joyous opportunity for a large gathering to celebrate the future.
"I know it means a lot to them," said Lauren Coffaro, who directs the PeaceJam program. "For a lot of these students, they've never had this experience in their young lives."
There were more than 750 students in attendance who were able to share their service projects and learn new skills related to peace and conflict resolution, human rights, teamwork and leadership. It was an incredible way to spend a few days learning about the next generation's struggles and victories.
These are incredibly driven kids who can share stories of personal struggles — whether against poverty, discrimination or sexual abuse — through eye-opening tales of survival and resilience. "One thing that guided me in my life is your determination would determine your destination," said Wisdom Addo, who runs the PeaceJam Ghana program. He described the PeaceJam gatherings as a way to give light to a whole lot of people.
"I’m just blown away by the level of talent that we see here with the PeaceJammers ... This program really is crucial because the educational system in Ghana, in many of these poor communities, fails students," Kelly said. "While PeaceJam isn’t meant to replace any education system, a little goes a long way. The program is relatively inexpensive to operate, and we have a huge impact. And this isn't just what we think; this is what we know because, throughout the conference, the youth have a chance to speak."
How you can help
"There's a lot of ways to help support PeaceJam," Coffaro said. "We have chapters in 15 countries around the world with programming in over 40. There might be a PeaceJam in your community that you could support as a volunteer. Of course, we're also a nonprofit ... most of our funding comes through charitable donations. So if anyone is motivated to work with their employer or with a community foundation, or even individually to help fundraise money with PeaceJam, to give back, that's a huge support."
If you would like to support the PeaceJam Foundation, you can sponsor a young person or school to be part of PeaceJam at peacejam.org/donate.
In the past, we've also teamed with United Airlines' Miles on a Mission program, which allows consumers to donate unused miles which are then dispersed to various charities. This is how we got Tawakkol Karman to Accra. (We'll have more on that later this year.)
"There are a lot of young people, especially in Africa, who are going through a lot," Addo said. "I think this program has been an icon for them. My goal is to be able to expand it to the whole of Ghana."
There's so much need. You can help.