Promoting resiliency: PeaceJam and TPG help youth weather the pandemic

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Editor’s note: This article was written by Lauren Coffaro, director of global programs at the PeaceJam Foundation, a charity partner of TPG since 2016.


You’ve heard it said: “Travel is back.” This holiday season, we are feeling more hopeful for the future, as evidenced by the family reunions, company retreats, weddings and business trips that are bringing us back to the skies in record numbers.

TPG is committed to helping build a brighter future by investing in the next generation of leaders for positive change through its long-term partnership with PeaceJam. PeaceJam works alongside Nobel Peace Prize laureates like Rigoberta Menchú, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama to mentor youth in critical leadership and change-making skills.

Since 2016, our partnership with TPG has directly affected more than 12,000 students in places like Guatemala, Liberia, Ghana, South Africa and East Timor.

TPG readers form an important part of this effort. Starting today, we are proud to be part of United’s Miles on a Mission. Anyone who has taken a flight on United in the past may have some spare MileagePlus miles sitting around in their account. By donating your unused miles to a nonprofit this holiday season, you could transform a young person’s life.

Beyond how you can take part in PeaceJam initiatives, you may be wondering what has changed with TPG and PeaceJam since the pandemic halted in-person events. We’ve been as busy as ever, making a difference in the lives of youth.

PeaceJam and TPG
(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

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PeaceJam during the pandemic

group of PeaceJam participants
(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

TPG readers may know PeaceJam through footage of our high-energy conferences and summits where youth present their social impact solutions directly to Nobel Peace laureates. But like the rest of the world, our focus shifted during lockdown.

Young people have faced unique challenges in the past two years, from disruptions in their schooling to social isolation. This is on top of coping with other global issues that loom on the horizon, like climate change and social inequality.

With the support of TPG, PeaceJam’s teams of country experts have been hard at work engaging youth at the local level by hosting virtual workshops, dialogues and training that promote resilience, community and healing during this difficult time. They even collaborated directly with Nobel laureates like Leymah Gbowee to explore how we can build the world we want after “the great pause.”

And they did more than just talk: They took action. Learning tactics from incredible peace advocates such as Jody Williams from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Kailash Satyarthi, who campaigns to eradicate child labor, “PeaceJammers” launched social movements to address their communities’ most urgent needs.

Don't Touch My Peace t-shirts
(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

In Accra, Ghana, youth created a COVID-19 education campaign in which they donated hand-washing stations and masks to more than a thousand market workers. In Cape Town, South Africa, they responded to a local hunger crisis by partnering with local organizations to do weekly food drives, serving more than 1,500 families. In Monrovia, Liberia, our young people launched a national movement called “Don’t Touch My Peace” to demand free and fair elections (and they even won a global award!). 

women in a market
(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

PeaceJam provided these young people with the possibility to move beyond isolation by linking them to real opportunities to make sustainable change. During the pandemic alone, TPG sponsored educational programming for more than 2,500 youth in four countries, resulting in at least 25 major youth-led service projects that benefited 30,000 community members at the grassroots level.

TPG’s fellowship program grows in scope

TPG fellows
(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

In 2018, TPG and PeaceJam launched the Global Impact Youth Fellowship to help outstanding young leaders gain the skills and training necessary to amplify their impact and create sustainable change. Twelve “TPG fellows” were chosen to receive financial support for higher education and become part of an international network of inspired young people with the global awareness and 21st-century skills to succeed as peacebuilders.

We are proud that not only were our fellows able to continue their education during the pandemic via remote learning, but we established a professional mentorship program too. Each fellow is paired with a TPG team member who dedicates time each month to speak with their mentee to help them strengthen their skills, networks and, most importantly, their belief in their own potential. As TPG Fellow Ines from Guatemala shared, “The mentorship program is an opportunity for the fellows to get to know the world through others’ eyes.”

(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

Kobby Reagan, a TPG fellow from Ghana, spoke enthusiastically about his relationship with mentor Benji Stawski: “He grants me guidance on my academics and career journey.  Leveraging the TPG Mentorship Program has been a springboard for greater heights.” 

The TPG fellowship is unique because it goes beyond just paying tuition. It is an investment in individuals who we believe will make a lifelong, positive impact, transforming their towns, cities and countries from within. Ines agrees, and says that “being part of this scholarship program goes beyond resources to study, it also influences our entire social development.”

As we look forward to 2022, we are excited to welcome eight new TPG fellows to the program — doubling down on TPG and PeaceJam’s shared vision of mentoring the next leaders for social good. 

As travel returns, we need your support

woman painting
(Photo courtesy of PeaceJam)

As access to vaccines slowly trickles out around the world and countries begin to reopen, we set our sights on bringing young leaders together in person once again to form powerful networks for peace. To do so, we need the continued support of this outstanding community: you, the TPG readers. 

Education and mentorship are critical to prevent conflict, and that is why programs like PeaceJam are more necessary than ever. The world needs solutions from the next generation. This world is theirs to inherit.

Together with TPG and outstanding Nobel Peace laureates, we are growing leaders committed to nonviolence. It takes the ongoing contributions of caring supporters and companies like The Points Guy to make this possible for thousands of youth. 

If you would like to support the PeaceJam Foundation this holiday season, there are currently two ways to give. Sponsor a young person or school to be part of PeaceJam at peacejam.org/donate or make our next in-person event possible by helping us reach our goal of 500,000 miles in United’s Miles on a Mission campaign.

Lauren Coffaro is the director of global programs at the PeaceJam Foundation, a charity partner of TPG since 2016. Her background is in intercultural exchange and conflict resolution. Lauren is an avid traveler and a points and miles enthusiast herself. She lives in Denver.

Featured courtesy of PeaceJam

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