Toward Peace and Justice, April 2014


Young people in the U.S. face a challenging future: failing public schools, escalating costs for higher education, uncertain job opportunities. And they have provocative ideas about security, justice, and the priorities that should be reflected in our federal budget.

Today, I invite you to hear directly from some of them—young people across the country who are taking part in this year’s If I Had a Trillion Dollars national youth film festival.

Now in its fourth year, the festival asks youth to speak out on the federal budget via short videos that answer the question, “What would you do with $1 trillion—for yourself, your family, and your community?” Our government spends around $1 trillion yearly on national defense. More than $1 trillion has been spent on the wars abroad, and more than $1 trillion has gone to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Meanwhile, many critical programs have been slashed that deeply affect our younger generations and the future they face.

Through original music and engaging visuals, the film festival participants are offering thoughtful policy alternatives—on issues such as education, immigration, climate change, cuts to food stamps, and foster care—telling their government representatives what changes they need and want.

Visit now to hear what they have to say.

Their voices will be heard in the halls of Congress over the next few days. Seventy participants will gather together in Washington, D.C. for a youth leadership conference, a free public screening of their videos, and a chance to meet with representatives in the federal government.

Some will be leaving their communities for the first time, bringing messages from peers and neighbors to Washington. Others are returning to pursue their advocacy for funding community needs, building on connections and lessons from last year’s festival. In coming together, they will discover the common themes that link their experiences, the common dreams they share for the future and the power of working together for change. They will return home realizing that they have greater power to make a difference than they had ever imagined.

Thanks to the tireless work of our staff at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), this festival has grown every year since its inception, reaching more young leaders in more communities this year than ever before. Thanks to your support, AFSC continues to press Congress to move the money from military spending to fund human needs. Your support allows young agents of change to voice their needs to Congress.

I hope these videos inspire you, as they do me, and leave you confident in the young people who are taking our important work for peace and justice into the future. Thank you for being partners in this compelling work.

In peace,

Shan Cretin
General Secretary