|Our journey, from passion to impact! Since 2007, when Generations For Peace (GFP) was founded as a peace-through-sport initiative of the Jordan Olympic Committee, our journey has been a quest to turn passion into impact. Our focus has always been on supporting people to implement grassroots peacebuilding activities in their own communities to address burning issues of hatred, intolerance, exclusion, inequality and violence, which they are passionate about changing. Our quest to ensure their passion and effort secures ever-greater impact has driven the continuous evolution of our approach and our organisation over the last 14 years.
From our initial focus on sport as a vehicle for youth engagement and behaviour change, as we grew, we learnt from failures and successes in diverse conflict contexts, and evaluated, adapted and refined our approach to include five tools: sport, arts, advocacy, dialogue and empowerment. This flexible toolkit has allowed us to tailor activities to local situations and target groups, and our programmes often now use a combination of these tools.
So far, we have trained over in 51 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Along this incredible journey, through all the changes and adaptations, key elements have remained constant. All our programmes promote four values: youth leadership, community empowerment, active tolerance and responsible citizenship. And in all our work we keep a focus on four drivers of change: innovation, quality, impact and sustainability. This focus is reflected in our consistent ranking for the last five years within the Top 35 and most recently ranked as the “#26 NGO in the World” by NGO Advisor, based on their assessment of NGOs’ innovation, impact, governance and sustainability. Such external validation is testament to the incredible achievements of our volunteers, and shows we are on a good path. But amidst the recent upsurge of hate speech, prejudice and violent extremism, we feel the urgency of our mission and growing demand for our support to turn passion to impact. The quest goes on!
“Bounce Back Better”
After 2020, which amidst the COVID19 pandemic was a tough year of proving our resilience through innovation and good governance, 2021 has been an extremely positive year of “Bouncing Back Better!” Overall, after an extremely tough financial year in 2020, we worked extremely hard on fundraising (we have submitted 33 proposals so far this year!) and we have bounced back already to significantly better than our pre-COVID financial position. In doing so, we analysed our fundraising data and noted we have a 90% success rate in grant applications where we have done solid pre-positioning with the donor. That has led to prepositioning in 11 priority countries globally by developing process for donor mapping and programme concept notes, as well as providing mentorship and support for our volunteers to lead prepositioning efforts in their respective countries. Our financial bounce-back has also enabled us to recruit Jordanian and International staff and the team has been expending again, attracting key talent in a number of roles, including:
- Creation of a new Chief Programmes Officer role to drive strategic leadership of our programming – Dr Carol Daniel-Kasbari from USA/Palestine
- Recruitment into our Institute of an expert Peace and Conflict Education Specialist – Dr. Ahmed Hachelaf from Algeria
- Recruitment of a new Communications Director to drive our social behaviour change communications (SBCC) and youth media engagement – Dr Dareen Al-Khoury from Jordan
- Additional new positions also in Programmes, Monitoring & Evaluation, Communications, Human Capital Management
In addition, we secured donor funding to invest in a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and have procured Microsoft Dynamics 365 and consultancy support. The first phase of implementation will give us a new accounting system with enhanced financial management, donor reporting and donor tracking dashboards.
At GFP, we have always prioritised our staff’s mental health and wellbeing. This year. we have also focused a lot more explicitly on Wellness and Wellbeing in the team, launching an All-Staff Wellness & Wellbeing survey every six months, introducing a new Work Flexibility policy for flexibility of location and hours of work, and arranging free mental health sessions for staff with the Mind Clinic, one of the most distinguished mental health clinics in Jordan.
Hybrid Capabilities – Ongoing Digitisation, Innovation and Adaptation amidst COVID19
We have emerged from a year of COVID19 disruptions and lockdowns, with completely digitised curriculum and online facilitation tools and expertise for delivery of high-quality online trainings, and even for online engagement of programme activities direct with target group participants. These new online capabilities give us enhanced options to deploy hybrid modalities for programmes: with some elements on-site when in-person activities really deliver better impacts, and some elements online for convenience and to drive the cost model down. Right now, we are delivering our annual Advanced Training but with more content spread over several weeks benefiting more than double the usual number of Pioneers. Similarly, we will be hosting Amman Peace Talks for the third time this year, and like last year it will be entirely online reaching a wider audience and at a small fraction of the cost of the live in-person event.
Extended our reputation as a technical expert in Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
Through this transition, we have also focused a lot on Quality, Protection, and Accountability, introducing a new Quality Assurance process across all programmes, strengthening our own policies and procedures and gaining a reputation as a leader in good practices. For example:
- GFP was engaged by an EU Member States donor consortium to strengthen Protection across the Ministry of Youth in Jordan
- GFP was engaged as a thought-leader in Sport For Protection in the Olympic Refuge Foundation Think Tank and Community of Practice, and in the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation’s Community of Practice.
- GFP has successfully passed an extensive USAID verification certification and is now identified by USAID as a Monitoring Evaluation Accountability & Learning expert organisation for training of other NGOs and CSOs.
Pushing new boundaries for innovative programmes and research:
- Media For Peace – We completed a successful pilot and have secured a second, larger, grant for a second programme cycle engaging media professionals (media orgs, editors, journalists, media students, and social media influencers) in media sensitivity, media ethics, conflict sensitivity, gender sensitivity, mis- and dis-information and fact checking. This includes a new partnership with the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) run by the Poynter Institute
- Youth Media – We have secured significant donor funds to invest in youth media: engaging young people in the production of digital media communications in a variety of channels and formats to share content produced by youth on issues relevant to youth, engaging other youth as well as local and national government, parliamentarians, private sector and NGOs, UN agencies, etc.
- Climate Action – We have prioritised Climate Action, both because it is a deeply felt urgent responsibility to play our part to mitigate risks of deeper fragility, instability and conflict; but also because it offers a vehicle for peacebuilding across identity divides and, in particular, to close the widening and accelerating gap between young people and government. GFP hosted Jordan’s first ever Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) – the official youth conference on climate change prior to COP26 and we had a staff member also at COP26. We have maintained our carbon net zero emissions status (since 2019), our zero single-use plastic policy, and are currently installing 5 electric vehicle charging points at our headquarters as a visible example to others.
- New Syria pilot programme: We are also about to publicly launch GFP’s first-ever programme inside Syria. This has taken a lot of preparation and is an initial pilot, engaging on empowerment of women in peacebuilding leadership roles in communities which also have diverse communities and inter-faith tensions.
- Innovative research on violent extremism: GFP Institute is leading a multi-stage flagship EU-funded research project on violent extremism in Jordan, as part of a nine-country research project. We are also establishing a new GFP Institute Journal in partnership with University of Virginia to give supported process for grass roots peacebuilders from GFP community to achieve peer-reviewed academic journal article publication.
- Cumulatively, we have trained 19,540+ volunteers, whose GFP programmes have positively impacted 1,417,308+ children, youth, and adults. So far in 2021 up to 30th of September, we delivered 24,893 person-hours of trainings.
Deepening our USA Engagement:
- We conducted wonderful exchange visit of youth leaders from one of our Jordan programmes to Chicago to engage with youth leaders in our Chicago programme. This connected volunteers across continents, who were implementing GFP peacebuilding programmes two countries and created a channel for them to share their experiences.
- Having successfully implemented the “Youth SOAR” pilot to reduce the levels of youth violence by strengthening the resilience of youth and their peers to violence and increasing their sense of belonging to a positive peer group in Chicago’s South Side, we are expanding our Chicago programme to bridge two very different communities – our original site on the South Side with a new site out of the city at University of Illinois (capturing more diverse identities and the Blue/Urban and Rural/Red divide as well as partnering with the YMCA for the first time. This second intergroup cycle of activities aimed at bringing together diverse groups of young people in carefully-facilitated sport-based activities that promote peer bonds, build team and trust, and foster inclusion and positive social interactions across ethnic, cultural and physical divide.
- We are also scoping a second USA programme in Tennessee to be launched early next year, since the data shows Tennessee is #1 in incidents connected to White Supremacy from 2018-2019; #2 in opioid use; #3 in violent crime rate; and 77% above national average in Google searches to join armed .
- We also supported advocacy and the re-introduction of the Youth, Peace & Security Act in Congress.
Board and Governance:
We have focused a lot of energy on strengthening our board level governance, both for our global headquarters in Jordan and for GFP’s registered entity (501.c.3) in the USA. In Jordan, we are adding two additional high profile Board Members. In the USA we have completely overhauled the Board membership and after a year-long search process we have replaced the Jordan-based members with 10 new US-based Board Members and 2 new Ambassadors. We will be announcing them in December. We have established four committees in which Board members work directly with staff on: Programmes, Outreach, Fundraising, and Governance.
For more on the history and approach of GFP, please visit our website. We are inspired by what we do. If you are too, then please join us, partner, donate, or simply share our story.