Tucson’s Annual Youth & Peace Conference (YPC) empowers youth as peacemakers and changemakers through skill-building workshops, inspiring speakers & performers, dialogue circles, a resource fair, & art show. Each year’s conference is organized by a Youth Leadership Team with help provided by an Adult Advisory Team. The youth decide on a theme for the conference and then select speakers, performers, workshops, and special activities that explore, demonstrate, or highlight the theme. The 2016 YPC Youth Team has chosen COMMUNICATIONS as the general theme for the 5th Annual Youth & Peace Conference. Adult advisors handle the logistical end of things and oversee funding and finances for the annual event.
There have been four Youth and Peace Conferences held so far; the fifth YPC is planned for April 2, 2016:
A primary goal from the beginning has been to put youth in charge of their peace conference. The organizational structure includes a Youth Leadership Team with youth members drawn from key partnering organizations that are collaboratively producing the conference (e.g., Sunnyside Unified School District, the Nonviolence Legacy Project/Culture of Peace Alliance, Changemaker High School, YWCA’s La Escuelita Program). An Adult Advisory Team handles many of the logistical arrangements and financial oversight, while turning over key decisions about content and format to the youth.
The Youth Team selects the title and theme for the conference. They choose workshops, keynote speakers, performers, and special activities (e.g., dialogue circles, an art show, a talent show), all geared to explore different aspects of the main theme. A resource fair highlights local youth-serving and peace-oriented programs. Child care is available. The conference itself is intended for youth ages 12-23 years. Adults who live with or work with youth are welcome.
More than 20 community organizations work collaboratively to plan and present this annual event, with the help of more than 120 volunteers (e.g., youth & adult planning team members, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, workshop presenters, and other community members who volunteer at the event). The Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA) acts as the 501(c)(3) nonprofit umbrella for the conference.
Sponsorships from local organizations, individual donations, and small grants provide the majority of the cash budget for the conference ($17,000 for the 2016 YPC), while in-kind services and products (with an estimated worth of $39,000 for the 2016 YPC) cover 70% of the total cost. This event is a great example of what can be accomplished when diverse organizations join forces to collaboratively address issues and create positive change in our community. The goal is 500+ participants at the 2016 conference.