The St. Louis Peace Education Program partners with youth most impacted by unjust systems and helps them see their own power to create institutional and systemic change. Since 2012, it has addressed the school-to-prison pipeline by helping youth identify and organize against policies that fuel the pipeline, and by helping youth learn to mediate conflicts among peers in order to prevent violence—and consequences like arrests and suspensions.
Building peaceful school communities is part of a larger, youth-led effort to change institutions and systems that expose young people to violence, limit economic opportunities, and provide disparate access to resources.
In 2014, AFSC held the first St. Louis Freedom School and formed a chapter of Youth Undoing Institutional Racism. This organizing, based on the model of AFSC’s Seattle program, builds an analysis of how current poverty and violence in St. Louis relate to a history of structural and institutional racism. As these efforts grow, participants will implement campaigns that challenge racism nonviolently.