Peace Innovators Program equips youth changemakers

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Positive messages on bridges to assist in suicide prevention. A conference to develop affirming churches. Youth workshops to improve mental health literacy. These are the kinds of lasting impacts that come about through the Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring Program.

Located on the University of Waterloo campus, surrounded by brilliant and driven students, the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is acutely aware of the capacity of students to change communities for the better. The growing number of on-campus initiatives – both curricular and co-curricular – that focus on connecting student research and action to community and industry partners speaks to a broader movement toward acknowledging student capacity for impact now, not just in the future. While university is a time for testing, learning, and failing in an effort to become more effective changemakers, this does not disqualify students from the potential for significant impact along the way. 

Peace Innovators group photo
It is invaluable for young people to arrive at University equipped and ready to identify and navigate the growing number of innovative, hands-on opportunities. This is the spirit behind the Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring Program, a collaborative opportunity organized by Kindred Credit Union, The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), and the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement that has sparked changemaking journeys for thirteen youth in high schools across Southern Ontario since the program launched in 2017.  

Through this year-long program, high school students across Ontario learn about a problem in their communities and are given the tools to put their knowledge into action through a project or initiative. Students receive $250 to kick-start their innovation plan, and a $250 personal scholarship upon completion. Participants in this program get the chance to be a part of a tight knit community of passionate youth and receive access to rich mentorship opportunities.

The 2019-2020 program includes a cohort of five inspiring grade eleven and twelve students. On February 8, 2020, these five peace innovators gathered at the Centre for Peace Advancement for their third retreat of the year, which focused on finalizing their solutions and harnessing the power of storytelling to communicate their project’s impact.

Katie Gingerich, Executive Director of TREE, believes in the importance of helping youth make a deep impact by slowing down to explore a problem at its roots. This innovative program trains students on how to use their interests as catalysts to address injustices in sustainable ways. Gingerich notes, “We are excited to work with youth who are passionate and have initiative—we will equip them with the rest!”

Gingerich is also encouraged by the way the community is increasingly embracing the idea that youth-led and youth-focused initiatives have the power to make a genuine difference in the world today: “We want to recognize youth not just as holding capacity to make change in the future, but holding the capacity to make change right now.” 

The program is gearing up for a new cohort of 2020-2021 Peace Innovators and will accept applications starting March 9, 2020. If you know a youth who would thrive in this program, encourage them to apply before the April 30 deadline.

Applications are open until April 30, 2020! Click here to apply.