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The Peace First Challenge

A digital science fair for youth-driven social innovation and peacemaking.

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Using our beneficiary feedback interviews and a series of co-design workshops, we have completed this user experience map. We are also in the process of creating a prototype that will be tested the week of May 15th. UPDATE: We have added below the results of our user testing as well as the final designs that we hope to turn into our new platform.

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

We are the destination for young people who want to change the world through compassion – right now. We put REAL resources – tools, mentors, capital – to support and amplify their visions.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Peace First - We believe in your power to change the world – not someday in the future – right now.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

We are in the pilot phase of this new idea that we launched in October 2016. We have piloted this idea with young people with a focus on groups in the US but have also included young people in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. We tested our tools, platform, mini-grants program, and mentorship.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

We have just finished the most divisive and brutal election process in recent memory, laying bare deep fissures across America and across the globe. Meanwhile, there are millions of young people hungry to be part of something bigger, something positive. Right now they don’t know where to go.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Over the next 18-months, we want to grow our community to have 100,000 users who will complete at least 1,000 projects and where we will identify at least 100 young exemplary peacemakers. Some of the steps to get there include: - Using the learnings from pilot phase to launch the next phase of platform by end of 2017 - Launching next call for young people to take action early in 2018 - Growing our team and increasing funding resources

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

Eric Dawson - Founder and overall strategy Bobby Jones - Author of "Good is the New Cool". In charge of storytelling Meredith Hamilton - MBA from Harvard and in charge of operations Raul Caceres - In charge of technology and program design. Experience in 15 countries

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Business Development/Partnerships

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Get feedback from experts

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

Quantitative: - # of projects completed - # of young people in project teams - Number of people impacted by initiatives - Media reach through stories from young people - Number of mentors supporting young people - Diversity of locations, views, and ethnicities represented Qualitative: - Changes in outcome indicators at an individual and team level and aligned to theory of action - Evaluations to better understand factors leading to higher completion rates

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

Over past weeks, we conducted user research and learned that: - Young people find the belief in their potential from adults interacting with them really powerful - User experience needs to be improved - Our target audience needed to be fine tuned - We needed more ways to engage young people before they feel ready to start or join a project These changes have been reflected in proposal

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

We have just developed a clickable prototype of the platform that we will be testing in the next couple of weeks so we will answer some of the key questions we have including: - Ideal user journey through platform - Interaction opportunities using existing projects from young people - Best call to action to encourage young people to join community We hope to have these solved during these process with IDEO once we conduct the user testing with the prototype we are developing

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Thanks so much to the experts that took the time to go through our proposal and provided very thoughtful feedback. Based on their feedback, these are the areas that seem to need more information to make our proposal stronger: MEASUREMENT OF EFFECTIVENESS: Due to the characters limit, we were not able to add all the information we wanted to add; in particular, on the qualitative measures of effectiveness. As mentioned in that field, we use outcome indicators that we measure before young people start a project and on completion. We have had a few issues with not all young people completing both instruments but we do have some initial data to understand changes in individuals and in teams as part of the process. The measurements fall under the following categories: - % of young people that report an increased motivation to become peacemakers - % of young people that report an increase in their engagement with their communities - % of young people that report an increase in their peacemaking skills - % young people that report a better understanding on how to tackle root cause of systemic issues through a peacemaking lens These outcome indicators are aligned to our theory of action. In addition to these, at the end of each project, young people are asked to submit reflections. These make them eligible to participate in accelerators that give them access to accelerator grants; questions asked during this phase include: - How did doing the project deepen your team’s understanding of the injustice? - How does your team know that the project made a difference? - How did your community change as a result of the work you did? Please share numbers, anecdotes, and examples. (required) - How many people were positively impacted by your project? (Think about attendees to events, people that collaborated with your project, people that you spoke with to understand their views, etc.) * Compassion: Compassionate peacemakers notice when something is unfair, and they want to help. They reach out to people with different perspectives and identities to make lasting change, and they believe in the worth and dignity of everyone. Think about the people who are affected by the injustice your team identified: - How did your team learn more about them, how they were impacted, and how they felt? Please give examples - What did your team learn? * Courage: Peacemakers take personal risks to help others and to stand up for what they believe is right. - Tell us about how your team has taken a risk and overcome challenges in your work on this project * Collaboration: Mobilizing others to create lasting positive change is an important part of any peacemaking project. Collaborative peacemakers develop a vision for what they can accomplish working together with other people, and they inspire others to get involved. - How has your team gotten others involved in designing, carrying out, and/or expanding this project? - Please share images of your team’s peacemaking in action, your successes and anything else that will help tell your team’s story. LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY OF PROJECT: We have spent some time thinking about how to make this project sustainable in the long term. Some of our initial ideas include: - Adding crowdfunding functionality so that each team can also raise the funds they need once they are at the stage where additional funds can help them increase their impact - We are developing a digital mentorship program so that a lot of the feedback provided to young people can come from volunteer mentors as opposed to staff. They would go through a 4-module online training program that will give them the required skills to support young people. In addition to these, we would love to receive some more ideas from experts to help us better understand how to secure out long-term sustainability. WAY TO TRACK PROJECTS/IDEAS THAT GET STARTED BUT DON"T GET FULLY REALIZED: Excellent question. A question we have also tried to start answering ourselves. We have started this process by sending a simple survey to all teams that during our pilot registered to be part of the process but did not complete it. The questions we asked them include: - Is there anything we could do different that could have helped you complete the full process? - Could you share the main reasons that stopped you from completing the full process? Some of the initial insights that we have collected include: - The timeline did not work for some groups so they recommended that we have a longer timeline for the full process. - While deadlines were really useful for a lot of young people, they recommended that we have extensions that they can use in case something happens. - Some young people were not able to bring a team together during the process. We will have full information on the responses of teams that did not complete process and responded to the survey.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

Over the past 3 weeks, we were also able to carry out 4 usability tests with young people that fall under our core demographics. You can see the summary of findings from the usability in this file: A top level summary of findings from this usability include: - Young people found it really important to have a celebrity influencer endorse the Peace First Challenge - Young people found it important to have images from young people to provide a feeling of young people creating most of the content - There was some confusion between projects that are created outside of a campaign versus projects created as part of a specific campaign - Some young people didn't trust social media ads and felt more compelled to click on organic social media posts (non-paid) - Young people part of the usability testing felt that the website was targeting them - Some young people felt that asking them for a selfie during the account creation process was maybe not as good. - Young people felt that asking for pronouns was a great way to make them feel that we were targeting their demographics We have spent the past 3 weeks also building the wireframes for the new version of the platform based on all of the lessons we have learned and feedback provided by users, experts and the community: In total, during our pilot, more than 20,000 people have been positively impacted by activities driven by the young people. We also want to include a few reflections from young people that went through our pilot activities: "We knew that our project was a success by seeing the reactions of strangers walking past us as they saw that we were volunteering to help feed the homeless. The homeless gave us many smiles and said they were very grateful that we volunteered. The owners of the ministry also said that they were grateful and wanted to bring many others to help too." "Our team knows that we have been making a difference by when a child opens their backpack and sees their kare kit and gets a huge smile on his/her face. When parents have come over to thank us for everything we have done telling us that we will never understand how much it means to them. We all just melt when a little child comes over and gives you a big huge and says "thank you for everything you have done for me." "We had over 3000 people attend the event which included 35 outside booths, 8 inside booths and a cardboard city room upstairs in the museum. We also had 10 stage presentations. To encourage the youth to visit many booths, we gave prizes to children that got 10 stamps from different booths after their visit. We handed out 1300 prizes. The things that surprised us the most was how it truly was a family affair. The parents were in there experimenting with the children, encouraging them to try new things. So, in addition to increasing their interest in STEAM subjects at school, we also increased communication within the family units." "We knew that our project made a difference because while making the comic, we knew we had to depict a good way to show what the bully was doing was wrong. Due to the gravity of the situation, we extensively thought of the right and wrong ways to confront the bully. Not only did we come up with a way to resolve the situation, we also provided them with a good understanding on the actions to take if the situation comes up in their own lives." "Our team is 100% satisfied with the results because students made a pledge to never bully again. They stood in front of mentors and read a pledge statement. Some of the children came back to our finally workshop and stated that they have not been bullied by their peers since the last workshop. They were also told that if a bully approach them with something negative to let them know, they don't receive that and walk away. Our workshops had about 45 students in the first one and we had about 10 in the next one." "Our team's goal was to rally together the students in our school against the issue of bullying and peer on peer violence. We Ordered and distributed 200 stickers with the phrase "Think before you post", printed on them. These stickers have been found on phones, lockers, and doors throughout the school and included a hashtag that can be used to show public support online. We feel that by doing something as simple as using the stickers given to them, the students have taken a public stand against our injustice." "Our team is proud to have mobilized 45 groups across the world (to date) to create beautiful art to combat the sorrow of the Pulse tragedy. Casts of all kinds and ages have united to perform The Laramie Project, each in honor of a victim of the Pulse shooting"

Our idea is The Peace First Challenge, an initiative from Peace First that through a digital platform supports young people to turn ideas to address injustices in their communities into projects by providing them with support through tools, mentorship, and real dollars. 

It tackles the problem of the lack of spaces for young people to channel their frustrations and anger about injustices in a positive way through work that is not only deep but that is also replicable and scalable through the use of digital mentors and a supportive online community. 

It intersects peace, prosperity, and planet as young people address issues of inequality and the environment amongst others while trying to solve these issues by using their peacemaking skills that we help them learn through experience. In practice, a young person that sees an injustice they feel frustrated about and angry about might come online to a search engine, we have been developing a Search Engine Optimization strategy to ensure they find us and then, from the moment they come to the platform, they start learning how to turn their feelings into action. 

They start by fine tuning the selection of the injustice they want to solve, they then go deep into their understanding of that injustice to come up with an insight which then gets turned into a plan that is taken into action through the support of mini-grants, a supportive community, and digital mentors. 

We were founded in 1996  by a group of young people but after more than 20 years working in physical spaces, we are reimagining ourselves and are now in a startup phase as we move to provide support to young people through a digital platform. 

We are through the middle of our fully fledged pilot where we have been supporting teams from 40 states. Projects from young people are trying to address injustices around poverty and inequality, racism, bullying and the environment amongst others. 

Some examples of projects include:

Proposal updates during beneficiary feedback

Over the past few weeks, during the time of this phase of the Bridge Builder OpenIDEO challenge, we have conducted beneficiary feedback and have worked on a series of co-design workshops to start acting on some of the feedback we have received. 

We are working on a prototype that reflects those changes and for which we should have results next week. 

The Timeline of our most recent activities

Week of May 1 - user feedback interviews and usability sessions

Week of May 8 - co-design workshops and prototype building 

Week of May 15 - We have scheduled to test prototype this week 

Please note:




Explain your idea

We have just finished the most divisive and brutal election process in recent memory, laying bare deep fissures across America. Our ability to find common cause, to approach injustices with courage, and to work together seems out of reach. Meanwhile, there are millions of young people with ideas on how to solve the world’s most entrenched problems but only a very few have access to tools, mentors, and capital to turn dreams into reality. Peace First is ready to change this through the Peace First Challenge. Imagined as a “science fair” for social innovation, the Peace First Challenge is a digital platform that challenges young people to identify community problems and then puts tools, resources, and networks into their hands to make it happen. Each Challenge is built around specific topics facing young people – e.g. cyber-bullying, tolerance, female empowerment – and teams of young people work together to design innovative solutions. Teams of young people are recruited from around the country (and around the globe – we have networks in dozens of countries) in partnership with media partners, celebrity ambassadors, and an unparalleled network of 20 large national organizations and 5,000 on-the-ground partners – reaching over 80 million young people. Peace First provides critical how-to resources, peer-to-peer connections, and a network of online mentors and experts to move young people from ideas to actions. We will also provide mini-grants to give critical, real-time dollars to young people who need it.

Who Benefits?

The main beneficiaries are the young people that go through a transformative experience where they gain and use peacemaking skills to solve key injustices in their communities. Secondary beneficiaries are all of the community members that are positively impacted by the work done by young people.

How is your idea unique?

1. We are the only platform we have found that provides real support to young people very early in their peacemaking journey. Other platforms and organizations do not invest in ideas that are very early in their development. We really believe that to create a movement to solve so many injustices affecting our world we really need to invest in young people at the point where they just have a desire to help but do not know how. 2. We also take the support we provide to young people to the next level. Most platforms out there create tools and resources but do not invest the time to work with the young people through the challenges they may be facing. 3. We are really investing as well in trying to reach harder to reach places. Most platforms we have seen in the market are mostly reactive and attract young people that live in large metropolitan areas and in areas with higher median household incomes.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

We are a small team of 10 based in Boston, MA. The core team includes: • Eric Dawson, CEO: co-founder, Harvard-trained educator, Ashoka, Pop!Tech and Echoing Green Fellowships • Bobby Jones, CMO: globally recognized expert on multicultural youth-marketing, author Good is the New Cool • Meredith Hamilton, COO: 15 years of executive leadership experience, Harvard MBA • Raul Caceres, CTO: UN-recognized engineer, fluent in 4 languages, led youth initiatives in 14 countries We are also partnering with a series of organizations that serve youth in the US and around the world to support our recruitment strategy.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.
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Attachments (3)


Summary of beneficiaries feedback and co-design workshops to design prototype


Prototype screenshots


Join the conversation:

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Hi Raul and Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from our expert review board. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

Based on expert career, work and experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question:
• I was really moved by the clarity of this organization's purpose and the articulation of the circumstances out of which the organization was born. Though the idea (in theory) is simple, it addresses a huge and urgent issue in our global society. It is a magical and uniquely individualized solution to addressing peace without juxtaposing it with anger, frustration and negativity. It simple stands as a very well-though-out solution that has very solid quantitative and qualitative objectives, an impressive team behind it and objectives that are feasible and doable within the time period that they've articulated. Beautiful articulation of concept. Thoughtful and thorough strategy.
• I like the idea of digital platforms to connect previously disconnected young people around positive social goals, but I have not been impressed by their measurement of effectiveness. This project seems to have some good measures and I would be curious to see how this played out in practice.
• I like that it gets curious, and socially minded young people where their lives are-i.e. their phones. It makes it accessible.

Desirability and Viability of proposal:
• Yes, I think the output of this product will be desirable. The idea is quite feasible and with careful execution could be viable. Leaders of the effort could expound a bit more on the actual process of individual transformation and collective impact.
• The value of this idea is quite clear and important. The feasibility is more of an open question. My biggest concern is around the long-term sustainability of this project.
• I think it will fulfill a desire of young people to take action in a way that is familiar to them and relevant to their generation. I think the feasibility is there- I wonder if there's a way to track projects/ ideas that get started but don't get fully realized and understand where momentum is lost- this could happen pretty frequently so would be interesting to see at what point it happens. Totally viable.

Feasibility of proposal (is this an idea that could be brought to life?):
• Definitely. As a coach, I'm involved in several conversations with colleagues on how to peaceably channel frustration about the political process and global uncertainty. A lot of people feel helpless. This program could inspire widespread optimism through personal empowerment.
• I'd like to see this idea put in action and generate results that could provide proof of concept of digitally based networking ideas than have been long on vision and faith, but short on evidence.
• I think it's a great idea and there's definitely a need.

Other questions or comments our experts wanted to share in assessment of your idea:
• I deeply appreciate the commitment to methodically laying out how this effort will come to fruition. I served as Deputy Director for large public grants program for years, so I've read a lot of proposals for concepts that were in the idea phase. The best thing a proposal can do is inspire the reader to believe in the possibility of its success and scale. I look forward to seeing this happen.
• make sure it's for and by young people! (don't let adults co-opt this) Think about how to protect the ideas and the safety of this group of engaged and passionate youth.

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 16 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.
Have questions? Email us at
Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Raul Caceres

Hi Kate Rushton 

Thanks for the feedback. Any chance to get clarifications on a couple of things?

Can the reviewer comment a bit more on this: "The feasibility is more of an open question. My biggest concern is around the long-term sustainability of this project."

Can the reviewer comment a bit more on this: "I have not been impressed by their measurement of effectiveness."

We would love to get a bit more information from the experts that would help us improve the proposal in a way that can address these concerns while also making our project stronger.


Raul and Peace First team

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Raul,

Thank you for reaching out. I have asked internally and will get back to you when I have more information.

Photo of Raul Caceres

Thanks, Kate Rushton 

We look forward to any additional details. We are also working on improving our proposal based on their feedback.



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