What is the mission of Seeds of Peace?
Our mission is to inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict. We equip them with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace.
How do you measure your impact?
Seeds of Peace’s approach focuses on three types of change: personal and interpersonal transformation, and wider societal change.
Since 2010, behavioral science researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have been surveying our participants for a longitudinal study about the efficacy of the Seeds of Peace experience. Their findings show significant and sustained positive attitudinal shifts, and the power of interpersonal relationships. Their work was published in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations and featured in The New York Times.
Another quantitative, longitudinal study, featured in The Palestine-Israel Journal, investigated whether Seeds of Peace alumni continue to participate in peacebuilding over the long-term. A researcher traced the entire first decade of Israeli and Palestinian program participants—more than 800 alumni—and interviewed over 100 of them. The study found Israeli and Palestinian alumni helping to run 40 local peacebuilding organizations and initiatives.
Seeds of Peace also captures contributions to lasting change through surveys and other qualitative research.
Do you have any political or religious affiliations?
No. Seeds of Peace does not prescribe or advocate for particular political solutions, nor are we affiliated with any political party. We are a secular organization and therefore do not represent any particular religious institution or religious point of view.
Why doesn’t Seeds of Peace take any political positions?
We recognize that there are many possible paths to peace. The voices of our alumni are paramount: our goal is to offer experiences and opportunities that will enable them to more effectively transform conflict, and provide a platform for them to share their views, which are often political. Keeping the focus on the wide-ranging political opinions of our alumni allows us to be a broad tent under which a spectrum of views are represented, joined together by the common desire to see a peaceful end to conflict.
What differentiates you from other organizations?
Our geographic diversity (27 countries), number of graduates (over 7,000 and counting), and longevity (over two decades of work) set us apart from other initiatives.
Seeds of Peace is also unusual in that it combines an out-of-country program (Camp) with year-round in-country programs for all graduates of the Camp. These deeply rooted in-country programs are critical to bridging the experience of Camp with the reality of the conflict. They also ensure that Seeds continue to grow in their understanding of each other while developing key leadership skills.
Seeds of Peace is one of the few programs positioned to link individual transformation to societal-level change through nurturing new leadership, making its ultimate goal far more ambitious than simply people-to-people dialogue.
The length of the initial encounter experience in Maine is also unusual: many organizations bring together participants for a day or days, rather than several weeks.
Do you provide speakers for events?
Seeds of Peace receives numerous requests to have either a staff member or alumni of our programs (Seeds) speak at events. We are always delighted to work with you to understand your goals and the feasibility of sending a speaker to your event. However, due to limited resources, we cannot fulfill every request. When unable to have a representative speak in person, we would be happy to send you videos and other materials.
If you are interested in holding an event in your local community for Seeds of Peace, please fill out our Speaker Request Form. The information you enter will help us assess the best opportunity for you and how we can assist you.
How old are the delegates to the Camp? How are they selected?
Most of the participants are 14-16 years old. The selection process to become a Seeds of Peace camper is very competitive: thousands apply for less than 300 spots each summer. Typically, applicants to Seeds of Peace apply (or are nominated) through their schools. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English and leadership skills, and are selected on the basis of interviews and written essays.
Is Camp life organized by conflict area?
Bunks and dialogue sessions are grouped by conflict region. For example, Israeli and Arab campers share a living space and participate in their dialogue sessions together. Similarly, campers from India and Pakistan share a bunk. American campers participate in both the Middle East and South Asia programs. Most Camp activities are run according to a camper’s dialogue group and therefore are conflict-specific. Other Camp activities, like meals and evening programs, encourage interaction between campers from all delegations.
What is a typical Camp day like?
On a typical day, campers are active between 7:30 a.m. until lights-out at 10 p.m. A camper’s schedule will usually include sports and creative activities, a dialogue session, meals, rest hour, a period of swimming, and an all-camp evening activity.
What exactly are the dialogue sessions?
Campers participate in dialogue sessions for 110 minutes every day. Each dialogue group consists of approximately 12-15 campers, led by two professional facilitators. Sessions foster self-reflection and deep learning that allows campers to delve into issues that divide them honestly, openly, and directly. In the process, they challenge stereotypes and prejudices with real stories and experiences. While they may not agree on historical or current events, they learn how to communicate effectively with each other and develop a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives—capacities necessary for leaders to be effective at conflict transformation.
Do campers come back for more than one summer?
Yes, many campers apply to come to Camp again, and Seeds of Peace makes a point of bringing back approximately 25 Seeds, representing all delegations, to each of the summer’s two sessions. They then participate in a specially-designed leadership program and act as peer supports for the new Seeds.
Who are the Seeds of Peace Educators?
Seeds of Peace has been bringing educators to Camp along with youth delegations since our founding in 1993. Each summer, adult Delegation Leaders are selected by fellow educators and officials in their own countries to accompany the youth to the Seeds of Peace Camp. The Delegation Leaders take part in a challenging program, including facilitated dialogue sessions, that parallels the Camp experience of the Seeds.
Educators can play a powerful role in transforming conflict, particularly by preparing young people for peace and supporting their involvement in peace-building efforts. Gaining the inspiration and tools needed to make that choice and be effective at this work, however, requires opportunities for educators to form cross-border relationships and networks, develop capacities particular to peace education, and gain access to resources that can aid their efforts.
Seeds of Peace Educator Programs engage a range of professional educators, including: educational policymakers and government officials; school principals and administrators; classroom teachers; academics; school counselors and psychologists; and informal educators and community leaders.
Educator Programs offer institutional and programmatic support for Seeds of Peace alumni locally, in their home countries, while spreading our mission to impact classrooms and communities throughout these regions.
Why are post-Camp programs important?
Camp is only the start of the Seeds of Peace experience. The weeks spent in Maine are transformative for most participants, but our research has shown that there is a much stronger and more sustainable impact if it is combined with opportunities to continue to come together and develop leadership skills on an ongoing basis at home.
In each participating country, Seeds of Peace has local staff that build on Seeds’ Camp experiences through intensive leadership programs that focus on four of the most important assets and abilities that leaders in conflict regions need to create meaningful change: strong relationships across lines of conflict; a sophisticated understanding of core conflict issues; practical skills in communication, critical thinking, and change-making; and the ability to take action on behalf of peace.
Our local staff also serve as a critical support network for Camp alumni, as they must often contend with challenging political and social environments. The processes begun at Camp are then able to continue and take root at home, where they are most needed.
Is my contribution to Seeds of Peace tax-deductible?
Yes, Seeds of Peace is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization and your contribution is entirely tax-deductible (US taxpayers).
How is Seeds of Peace funded?
Seeds of Peace is funded by individuals, foundations, and corporations.
What will my contribution fund?
Your contribution will help support the work of Seeds of Peace. This includes bringing teenagers from communities divided by conflict to the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine. The cost of sending one Seed to our Camp is $7,000 (including transportation). Your contribution will also support activities and programs in the Seeds’ home countries to sustain the relationships they have established at Camp, to keep the spirit of Seeds of Peace alive in spite of the current situation on the ground, and to inspire others in their communities.
Do you share donor information?
No, Seeds of Peace will never share/sell information related to its supporters. Seeds of Peace is committed to the privacy of its donors and subscribes to the Donor Bill of Rights.