The Ripple Effect Education deepens its roots as it spreads its branches

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

TREE and studentsThe Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is excited to announce that The Ripple Effect Education (TREE) has officially incorporated as a non-profit, and will be transitioning from the Epp Peace Incubator to join other peacebuilding experts in our Core Collaborators program.

For the past three years, TREE has been on a journey to support young people to become peace literate, equipping them with the tools they need to build healthy relationships with others and themselves.

The origins of TREE go back to founder Katie Gingerich’s experience directing Conrad Grebel University College’s Peace Camp. Through leading interactive workshops in local elementary schools to promote the camp, Katie discovered that students and teachers were eager for structured programming on conflict resolution to be embedded in the classroom. Just as importantly, she realized, “This is what I want to do with my life.”

In 2015, Katie began researching and visioning a process to launch what would become known as The Ripple Effect Education.

”Katie had discovered an important peace education opportunity,” recalls Centre for Peace Advancement Director Paul Heidebrecht, “but great ideas don’t become a reality unless innovators bring passion, energy, and persistence, and she certainly has.”

Katie also benefited from the mentorship, seed funding, and collaborative workspace provided to the peace entrepreneurs in the Centre’s Epp Peace Incubator, a program that helped launch TREE in the Fall of 2016 after Katie secured a three-year grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation. This funding allowed TREE to begin offering low-cost, curriculum-grounded programming in schools in Waterloo Region. Over the past three years, TREE has expanded their programming to grades 1 – 6 and tailored their programming in several subject areas. Moving forward, they will be expanding their program offerings to include K- grade 8. They have facilitated 397 workshops, reached 2,987 youth and employed 25 part-time facilitators. Katie is not just building a business with TREE, but is inspiring a movement.

As the grant with the Hallman Foundation was coming to a close, there was uncertainty surrounding the future of TREE. Katie was sure there were others who were as passionate as she was, and was determined to find more partners in this work. She shares, “We are planting saplings, investing in the future of this Region and expecting to continue to see long-term impact.”

The Wallenstein Feed Charitable Foundation also shared this vision. “Katie is obviously a leader with commitment, energy, passion, and great ideas. She just needs some funding to build a team and a sustainable program,” shares Rick Martin, the General Manager of Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd. TREE and Wallenstein Feed have entered into a three-year agreement that has allowed TREE to expand their work and grown their team. “Grade school kids these days face many challenging social situations.  Social media and peer pressure are intense.  It’s easy to get the idea that bullies win, Katie is showing a different way. I hope that TREE succeeds one kid at a time.”

Katie feels confident the demand for this work will grow. She shares, “I believe in this work. I think our evolving political climate will continue to increase demand for meaningful dialogue working towards belonging and diversity. But, this is hard work. This takes effort, dedication and willingness to make mistakes. At TREE, we don’t teach ‘formulas’, we are building a holistic approach to conflict resolution and to peaceful communities. I am so grateful for the support of Grebel, the Centre for Peace Advancement, and all our other partners who have each been a big part of this success.”

To learn how you can join in this movement, visit www.therippleeffecteducation.ca