Beginning in 2008, the Pearson Foundation supported the annual Global Call to Action Challenge—a program initiated by ten Nobel Peace Prize winners, the Dali Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and developed by PeaceJam, the international organization that promotes youth activism.
Across North America, The Global Call to Action Challenge encourages young people to engage in meaningful, effective local-service projects that correspond to urgent social issues identified by the Nobel Laureates—concerns that include restoring the environment, ending violence, and eliminating extreme poverty. Each year, the youth group that has created the most impactful, measurable change in their community is recognized for their contributions which requires applicants to present videos, photos, and other documentation of their efforts that they create themselves.
Representatives of the winning group receive their award from one of the Global Call to Action Nobel Laureates. Later, the Nobel Laureate travels to their hometown and visits their school to meet with the entire group, review their progress and map out strategies for the continued success of their project.
The 2012 Challenge winners were Youth United, a group of middle and high school students from Santa Fe, New Mexico. They were recognized for positive and widespread impact their Hooked on Books program has made on the children and community of Santa Fe. This literacy program began in 2011 as a project of students at the Santa Fe School for Arts and Sciences. Inspired by their teacher, Rayna Dineen, the students began organizing monthly reading contests in Santa Fe elementary schools. In these contests, elementary school children are awarded prizes for reading and for creating motivational tools for the campaign such as posters.
Their group, Youth United, evolved into a citywide student committee, and working with local government and businesses, they formed a larger coalition, the New Mexico Alliance for Literacy, which promotes literacy among young people across the Santa Fe area.
As Challenge Grand Prize winners, representatives of Youth United attended the annual PeaceJam Hero Awards Luncheon in Denver on November 13, 2012 to receive their award from 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. Ms. Gbowee led a peaceful women’s movement in Liberia, which played a pivotal role in ending the Liberian Civil War.
The 2011 Challenge winners were students from the Chautauqua Learn and Serve Charter School in Panama City, Florida. The Chautauqua Charter School students are between the ages of 18-22 and have moderate to severe disabilities. The school’s motto is, “The servers, not the served.”
The Chautauqua PeaceJam group has advocated for rights of people with disabilities around the world, including the right to accessible, efficient and public mass transit and have travelled more than half a million miles to make presentations in cities including Cairo, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Washington DC, and New York. 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams made a special day-long visit to the Chautauqua school in April, 2012.
In 2010, the award went to a group of students from Mount View High School in central Maine for their multi-year, ongoing effort to fight poverty and provide their community with healthy, locally-grown food. A year earlier, students from Ponderosa High School in Douglas County, Colorado were honored for their simple, student-designed recycling project that reduced waste in their school by seventy percent and energy consumption by nearly fourteen percent.
Learn more about PeaceJam and the Global Call to Action.
PeaceJam and the Pearson Foundation: Winning School Welcomes Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum