Game Changer: Peace First Prize Celebrates Young People | Not in Our Town

Game Changer: Peace First Prize Celebrates Young People

Not In Our School shares stories of youth working to make the world a better place. We’re happy to share this opportunity to give voice to inspiring and daring young people by nominating them for the Peace First Prize. 

Eric D Dawson peace first prize

By Eric D. Dawson

If you listen to the media, youth today are apathetic, technology addicts and just plain lazy. With the constant negative spotlight on our young people, it is sad, but not surprising to learn that according to a major analysis by the Berkeley Media Studies Group, less than 1% of news stories about young people are positive. Yet every day, I am privileged to hear stories defying that false expectation; stories of young peacemakers making positive and lasting change in their schools and communities.

I think of a 4th grade class in Los Angeles that grew increasingly concerned about race-related bullying they experienced at school. They decided to film a video that candidly shared how it felt to be bullied because of skin color. At a school assembly the students courageously screened the video to a tear-filled audience of peers and teachers, sparking a new conversation about exclusion at the school that continues today and has sparked new initiatives and awareness to bridge communication gaps among students.

These were elementary school students who saw a problem, were compelled to act, and took a risk to stand up against injustice. And this is not an isolated story: young people across the country are taking a stand about issues they care about – like bullying, homophobia and hate. They are working to solve problems, and make their schools and communities safer; and yet these are not the stories we see or hear as a nation.

Peace First Prize

Peace First is now giving voice to stories like these through the Peace First Prize. The Prize will showcase young people who have confronted injustice, crossed lines of difference, and had the courage and compassion to create lasting change. Five prize winners will each receive a $50,000 Peace First Fellowship over two years to continue their peacemaking work. Through mentoring and coaching, the Peace First Fellowship is a real investment in young people and their abilities to be peace leaders.

Our goal is to share this daring peacemaking work and inspire others to make peacemaking a part of their daily lives. But more than just recognizing a few individuals, we want to tell thousands of stories about how young people are changing their world. Young people you likely know through your work, and young people we’ve encountered in ours.

No Bully Zone, Peace First PrizeFor two decades throughout 32 states and 23 countries, Peace First ( has supported transformative programming to teach young people critical peacemaking skills to reduce bullying, learn how to stand up for students being teased, and play a vital role in making their schools and communities safer places to live. Our students are engaging in incredible acts of peacemaking, and we know they’re not alone.

Already, I’ve been incredibly inspired by the peacemaking stories of our prize nominees. From a bullied 8th grader who stood up and created an organization to combat bullying, to a college sophomore who created health services for the homeless in his community. These young people and thousands like them are standing up for change, creating projects and demonstrating impact.

Nominate a Young Person, Spread the Word

As educators, adults, parents and concerned citizens, we share the responsibility–and the moral imperative–of inspiring our young people and calling them to something higher. Let’s give our young people the positive voice they deserve and have earned. Here are four ways you can support the mission and vision of the Peace First Prize today:

  • Apply or nominate a young person: Do you know a young person who is making incredible changes in their school or community? Nominate them for the Peace First Prize. Nominations will be accepted through April 12.
  • Activate your network: Share the prize site with your network of friends, colleagues, youth serving organizations, parents and teachers.
  • Spread the word with social media:  “Like” us on Facebook and Share our link about the Peace First Prize on your wall. Follow us on Twitter and retweet our messages to your followers.
  • Celebrate youth peacemaking: Create an activity in your school or community to honor young peacemakers making a safer, more tolerant world.

To learn more about the Peace First Prize and nominate a young person, please visit Thank you for helping us change the game.

Eric D. Dawson is the co-founder and president of Peace First, an organization he helped launch when he was just 18. Peace First works on the twin challenges of youth violence and disengagement by preparing young children with the skills to be peacemakers. 

Add new comment