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Building a Pipeline of Young Leaders Working for Peace & Prosperity: Central America Pilot

Youth Leadership Training pilot program in Central America's violent Northern Triangle.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

When a young person recognizes his/her own dignity and the dignity of others, they are empowered to work towards a world where compassion, empathy and love triumph over hate, prejudice and violence. Yet in the violence-ridden, impoverished countries of Central America’s Northern Triangle, manifestations of dignity are in short supply. Young people bear unthinkable pressures and obstacles to safety and opportunity. Global Dignity and our El Salvador leadership is joining Glasswing International to create a Youth Leadership Training Initiative to provide the support, mentors and resources young people in the Northern Triangle need to become the next generation of agents for peace, prosperity and hope in their communities. We will work together and with youth leaders in the region to create a sustainable dignity-based initiative that is highly impactful, affordable, transferable and adaptable to other communities in Central America and the Caribbean where Glasswing works, and within Global Dignity's network of 70+ countries. We will create and pilot a two-level leadership training program: Level 1 (ages 10-13): We will build on Global Dignity's existing dignity-based curriculum and Glasswing’s Youth Leadership After-School Programs, focusing primarily on change-making, leadership skills and social entrepreneurship. Level 2 (ages 14-20+): An intensive program would include the above components plus training in community-based leadership and organizations, and understanding how successful grassroots movements have and can create fundamental change. Once the program is designed and tested, both organizations will share it with our respective growing leadership networks, many of whom are working with gang-affected youth, child soldiers, and refugees. A key component of the training will be to share the basic tenets of design-thinking with our networks, so that the Initiative framework can be adapted to their local context.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Young people (ages 10-20+) in Central America's most impoverished and violent communities, focusing on the Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Over the last 12 years, Glasswing has built a network of volunteer-based school and after-school programs throughout Latin/Central America. The Youth Leadership Initiative will be available to those young people currently working with Glasswing and Global Dignity El Salvador. Glasswing and Global Dignity El Salvador encounter dozens of exceptional young people each year who, with sufficient training and support, would become social entrepreneurs, civic leaders and change makers. The Youth Leadership Initiative will provide a deeper level of leadership skills training and mentorship to allow them to fulfill that potential and find solutions to the cultures of violence and intractable poverty plaguing their communities.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

DIGNITY AND VALUES: When a young person taps into his/her dignity and values (empathy, compassion, tolerance, understanding, self worth), they unleash enormous capacity to heal their communities and transform our world. SCALE AND IMPACT: Once the pilot is developed we will scale the Initiative throughout Glasswing's network in Latin American/Caribbean and Global Dignity's 70+ country network. FILLING THE GAP: There is a lack of leadership training programs for our targeted age group. There are many such programs for those in their 20s-30s but very few opportunities for cultivating these skills in younger people. As we have seen in the US with the high school students from Parkland, Florida, the potential of young people ages 10-20+ is powerful and often underestimated. REACH AND VISIBILITY: Our relationships with extraordinary leaders and networks, such as Bishop Tutu, Malala and the Obama Foundation, will increase visibility and partnership opportunities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Global Dignity is building a ground-up movement for justice, equality and peace, one that celebrates our shared humanity and expresses a forward-looking, optimistic spirit; and Glasswing International addresses the root causes of poverty, violence, and migration by implementing community-based public education, health, and economic initiatives that provide opportunities for young people to thrive throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, opens with a call to recognize the dignity of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Global Dignity and Glasswing are honoring this call by joining forces to provide the tools, training and support to empower the next generation of young people living in the violent Northern Triangle to build communities where peace, opportunity and hope thrive.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The violence, drugs, gangs and corruption rampant in the Northern Triangle are symptoms of the growing inequality, lack of community support and leaders, and desperation experienced by young people throughout the world. Already one of the most violent regions in the world, we expect the problems to only worsen under the current US administration's increasing deportation of migrants and undocumented immigrants. In fact, in January 2018 the Trump administration announced that it will suspend extensions for temporary protected status. Nearly 200,000 Salvadorians are currently facing deportation, and 86,000 Hondurans are expected to soon lose their temporary protected status. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign aid organizations and government, these patterns of violence and poverty remain. A new, ground-up strategy is needed: one where young people are trained and supported to make radical, lasting change in their communities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Core team: Federico Rivas, Global Dignity's Country Chair for El Salvador and Global Shaper; Diego de Sola, founding Global Dignity Country Chair, El Salvador, co-founder and board president of Glasswing; Celina de Sola, co-founder of Glasswing, Ashoka Fellow and recently-named Obama Foundation Fellow; and Cynthia Guyer, Executive Director of Global Dignity. We will also form a design committee to help us create the most impactful initiative possible. Our ideal committee would include: Young Leaders: Participants from Glasswing's youth programs in the region, and young leaders from Global Dignity El Salvador Kai Koerber: Student activist, Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS Donna Hicks: Weatherhead Center for Int'l Affairs, Harvard; Author, "Dignity" Marshall Ganz: Kennedy School, Harvard and grassroots movement trainer Richard Steele: Principal, SYPartners; Global Dignity Int'l Advisory Board Jason Warwin: The Brotherhood-Sister Sol, NYC Ruma Bose: Advisor to Pope Francis

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Young people in the Northern Triangle are in desperate need of alternatives to their country's extreme violence and lack of opportunity, and pathways to discovering their own dignity and creating change in their communities. We believe the strongest asset we have is the potential of the young people Glasswing and Global Dignity work with throughout the region who have the talent, creativity, courage and desire to tackle these challenges.

Geographic Focus

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with young people facing violence and extreme poverty.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

18 months to design, implement and test the pilot, followed by dissemination across Glasswing's network in Central America and the Caribbean, and Global Dignity's network of 70+ countries.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

Youth Leadership Training_ Preliminary Curriculum Overview.pdf

A starting framework for the 3-tiered curriculum: 1) Values; 2) Skills; 3) Challenges and Solutions to Peace and Prosperity.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ana Luisa Ahern

I work with EcoViva on environmental conservation in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador. We also work on youth development initiatives and your project sounds very interesting. I would like to connect with you to see if there are any opportunities for collaboration and to get youth from the Bajo Lempa involved in your training!

Photo of Alanna null

Thank you, Ana Luisa! It's wonderful to be in touch and to learn about your organization. I would love to connect you with Global Dignity's Country Chair for El Salvador. Please feel free to email me at and I will put you in touch!

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