The program, Proactive Engagement to Achieve Community Empowerment (PEACE) was developed by NICE in partnership with Peace Ambassadors USA (www.peaceambassadorsusa.org) and received its first federal funding for 2017-19. We are one of only five programs nationally to win this funding and the only program in the South. Collectively, both NICE and Peace Ambassadors have 30+ years’ success in programming and community outreach for refugees and New Americans that uniquely positions us to serve New American communities in Middle Tennessee with our strong connection to a diversity of nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities. The PEACE program’s overall mission is to empower youth and adults to become leaders through community engagement that enhances inclusivity, unity, and solidarity. By 2019, we aim to create community-led spaces for open dialogue, enhanced access to resources, and foster resiliency across diverse communities in the greater Nashville area.
What are some misconceptions about PEACE?
The general misconception is that PEACE may specifically target communities where it is believed youth are more “at risk” for radicalization and violent extremism. The PEACE model does not target violent extremism in any particular group, instead critical to our mission is the need to breakdown negative stereotypes and to foster healthy dialogue across communities throughout the greater Nashville area.
What is PEACE doing?
Our relationship-rich model gives communities experiencing trauma, language, and cultural barriers access to needed social services. In today’s world, where we are more interconnected than ever, it is essential to value diversity to build resilient communities. American immigrants and refugees who feel marginalized, persecuted, or alone are less likely to succeed in creating a life with economic stability and independence. With this in mind, we created the PEACE program to specifically address the cross-cultural challenges New Americans face when living in the United States.
Objectives of PEACE
During the two year period, the PEACE initiative aims to serve more than 1,140 people through its various programs. The PEACE program focuses on the following three areas: Youth Engagement, Community Engagement, and Resource Expansion.
The youth initiative includes leadership and mentorship activities that foster cultural exchange. Specific collaborations include: mentorship programs in partnership with local community groups and organizations; piloting the innovative youth and young adult mental health programs across relevant organizations; adapting Resiliency training to be culturally appropriate for Nashville communities; encouraging youth participation in community service projects in Nashville.
This initiative connects and empowers community leaders through resource trainings in civil mediation and mental health. We host community dialogues through organizational partnerships. We hold monthly forums to promote interactions among diverse communities in Nashville. Community members of all ages from Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Burma, Nepal, and other minority cultures are invited to connect with each other. The goal of this type of cultural immersion is to create relationships among minority communities and native Tennesseans.
This initiative is designed to identify resources and programs offered by organizations and institutions in the Greater Nashville area that could benefit the community if enhanced and expanded. The goal is accomplished by creating communication channels between groups to raise awareness and provide easier comprehensive access to community members. When a resource or program is identified, it is taken to community leaders to discuss the viability of its expansion.