Power of Peace

What if teens had the opportunity to build positive values, identities and social competencies?

Photo of Michael Arterberry
1 3

Written by

Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Michael Arterberry drew heavily on his understanding and empathy for the pressures and difficulties of the teenage years in developing Power of Peace. Growing up in poverty, he was fortunate to receive guidance from positive adult role models who helped him to overcome adversities and set high expectations for his future. Grateful for the role these mentors played in his own development, he decided to dedicate his professional life to helping teenagers navigate the difficult adolescent years.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)

Website

http://www.youthvoicescenter.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New York

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

New Rochelle

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • New York

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

New Rochelle, Peekskill, Port Chester, Mount Vernon, Hudson, New Lebanon, Albany, Schenectady, Wappingers Falls, Troy, North Rockland - New York

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Adolescence is a turbulent time for youth during which they begin to make increasingly independent decisions that have the potential to impact the rest of their lives. Positive youth development experiences that foster self-efficacy, clear/positive identity, and belief in the future give youth the opportunity to voice their fears and concerns in a supportive environment that will show them that they are neither alone nor victims of circumstance.

Youth Voices Center, Inc. (YVC) is dedicated to promoting positive youth development among adolescents, ages 12-18, through its Power of Peace program offered in schools, community centers, and youth groups. The Power of Peace program is a conflict resolution initiative focused on developing leadership, teamwork, collaboration, decision-making, respect for others and self, and cultural awareness. 

The overarching goal of YVC is to promote positive youth development and to lower the incidence of interpersonal violence among teens. YVC aims to achieve this goal by disseminating its Power of Peace program to a critical mass of students that represent a cross-section of their respective school, community center, or youth group. By helping these young people to dispel negative stereotypes of themselves and others and increase their capacity for empathy, YVC hopes to create safer school communities and more confident adolescents. The specific participant outcomes that YVC has identified include:

Increased self-esteem

Increased cultural awareness

Increased empathy

Increased knowledge of conflict resolution skills

Power of Peace is a succession of experiential workshops designed to enable young people to realize their full potential as productive members of society.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • No, not explicitly

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education

Year Founded

2008

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

The program, led by YVC’s trained facilitators, is provided to adolescents over the course of two full school days. On average, 25 students participate in each two-day cycle of the workshop. YVC staff work with the school guidance counselors to schedule as many workshop cycles as needed to reach the targeted number of students. Teachers and staff are encouraged to participate in the workshops as well so that they can share the experience with the students.
In order to cultivate well-being, the Power of Peace program utilizes a variety of experiential workshop activities to promote the following skills and attributes: conflict resolution, leadership, teamwork and collaboration, decision making, respect for others and self, and diversity.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The Power of Peace is facilitated during the academic school year. During the 2015-2106 year, 838 students participated in the life-changing experience of the Power of Peace Program. A pre- and post-test survey is used to determine efficacy of the program. Students are asked to also comment on their experience and its impact on them (see comments):
- Power of Peace is a great opportunity to show others how you feel and to discover things that you’d never thought were in someone
-I feel that POP will help lost students when they feel like they have no one else
- I feel that Power of Peace helped open peoples minds and care more about our fellow people
- Power of Peace helped changed my view on life
Of the 838 participants:
-more than 90% indicated that they have a different opinion/respect for themselves
- 93% indicated they have a new view and appreciation for others

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $100k - $250k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

YVC will meet the needs of its operating budget through ongoing solicitation of major gifts, corporate and foundation grants, government grants, and sponsorships. The three-member Board of Directors is committed to 100% annual giving and developing diverse revenue streams to provide financial resiliency and flexibility. Several school districts currently have the program in their school operating budget and pay for the program directly.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

YVC stands out because of 2 very important factors:
First, we are interested in the student as a "whole". When young people address the issues, feelings, emotions, and challenges that they face outside the classroom by the nature of being an adolescent, they are more aligned and able to learn. When participating teachers better understand and can empathize with these difficulties and challenges faced by students, they are better able to teach.
The young person as a whole adds more value to society.
Secondly, the passion and dedication of YVC leadership for youth is unprecedented.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Adolescence is a turbulent time when youth often feel confused, alone, and vulnerable. In today's shrinking world, youth are more impacted through social media, online presence and the stresses and challenges brought on by it. Self-esteem, social and emotional health, diversity, communication and relationships are all impacted with increased technology and less personal contact. YVC strives to bring back inter-personal relationships, self-esteem and success for our youth.
We are not aware of any other program addressing the well-being of youth through interactive, self-exploration workshops.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Program Design Clarity

School administrators select a group of 25-30 students (varying ages/races/economic situation/gender) to meet with YVC Facilitators for 2 full days. Lunch is provided by YVC to keep the group together and increase the bonding/team building. A variety of experiential workshop activities are then delivered to promote the following skills and attributes: conflict resolution, leadership, teamwork and collaboration, decision making, respect for others and self, and diversity. The workshops are usually conducted on school property and as often as necessary to meet the target number of students

Community Leadership

YVC's leadership team remains current with social media/topics of interest to youth as well as school related issues. These items are discussed with community leaders and school administrators to determine severity, impact and resolution. Modification of workshops or intervention may occur in some cases. As a social worker, our Executive Director is required to report anything that will impact the well being of a child.

Age of Children Impacted

  • 12+

Spread Strategies

Ultimately, YVC would like to see all youth reach their full potential which would make for a better world. In a school setting, the more students that participate, the more that "speak the language", the more the actual environment of the community is changed.
To reach our full potential, we are looking to connect with schools/organizations that are looking to do the same: change an entire community and facilitate workshops to all students.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

Real-life challenges prohibit children from thriving. We provide the skills for children to focus their attention on education, relationships, goals and expectations. They have to know how to "Shake off the dirt" of their past so that they can "Drive Their Car" to their future. Conflict resolution, leadership, teamwork and collaboration, decision making, respect for others and self, and diversity are all essential to wellbeing and success.

Leadership Story

Initially, it was my goal to teach kids how to avoid violent situations and keep themselves out of the justice system. I had experienced the amazing power of positive role models to keep me from going down that path and I wanted to do the same. As I facilitated more workshops, I realized it was not about violence at all. Young people face so many challenges that will ultimately affect their success in life. I decided that broken children are much easier to fix than broken adults....I focus on character education as the foundation of making good decisions, building relationships and success.

What awards or honors has the project received? (Optional)

2010 Characters Unite Award
2014 100 Men of Color Award

Organization's Twitter Handle

@YouthVoicesCtr

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

https://www.facebook.com/YouthVoicesCenter

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelarterberry

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Andre
Team

Brother, I love this idea!  As a former middle level principal your idea resonates with me.  I'd encourage you to begin gathering (if you aren't already) quantitative data that supports how your program helps to improve attendance, behavior, and grades.  I'd like to connect and ask a few more questions. Contact me at andrew@spokaneschools.org. Thank you!


-Andre