Leadership | Integrity | Service
Peace For DC wants you to meet Lorenzo Sanders, a Peacemaker in the Benning Park and Benning Terrace neighborhoods of Ward 7, and a current student in the second cohort at the DC Peace Academy. Lorenzo was previously an Outreach Worker, and a Violence Interrupter before that, and now he serves as Site Supervisor. Born and raised in DC, and currently living not far from his work "target area", Lorenzo has been doing work with and give back to his community even before he officially became a Peacemaker. Lorenzo says, "I enjoy helping my people regardless of the role".
Lorenzo's advice to the next generation is to "be yourself" and "don't let your friends put peer pressure on you". That is sadly how a lot of violence unfolds, and Lorenzo works to break this cycle.
Lorenzo's target area has had no homicides since July, only one homicide so far in 2022, and only 6 shootings so far in 2022, which is meaningful progress from past years. We are so proud of Lorenzo and his colleagues for their hard work, and grateful for their commitment and bravery.
Peace For DC is thrilled to celebrate our first class of DC Peace Academy graduates!
Last week we came together for the first ever DC Peace Academy (DCPA) graduation ceremony that included remarks by Mayor Muriel Bowser, as well as speeches and performances by DCPA students. Our first cohort of Peacemakers- experienced community violence intervention workers- attended 13 weeks of classes, taught by DC’s rich network of local experts, and engaged in hands-on practical training including how to conduct mediations, how to practice cognitive behavioral theory to heal trauma, how to resolve conflicts, how to hold restorative justice circles, how to be a life coach, and so much more. Many of the students found that the opportunity to connect with each other, hold space to heal together, and build collaborations with each other were some of the most impactful outcomes of their DCPA experience. Building these connections and relationships will allow DC‘s peacemakers to work smarter and achieve greater outcomes.
Thank you to our amazing DC Peace Academy co-founders- Alliance of Concerned Men, Blueprint Development, Collaborative Solutions for Communities, Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Father Factor, J&J Monitoring, National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens, and Training Grounds- all community organizations engaged in the brave, difficult work of saving lives and building thriving, peaceful communities. Dr. Roger Mitchell, former DC Chief Medical Examiner, said at graduation: "The Peace Academy established outside of government, the Peace Academy established ‘for the people, by the people, to serve the people’, is the answer. And everybody can come alongside as we continue to work for the freedom of our people, the health and life and safety of our people.”
As stated by our Executive Director, Lashonia Thompson-El: “To achieve peace, it will require a deeper investment and a deeper commitment to our frontline workers. It is our responsibility to support our Violence Interrupters as they set out to do the work that they have been called to do.” Sincere thanks to all of our donors who make this invaluable work possible. Peace For DC is committed to building collaborations and partnerships in order to heal trauma, transform the lives of those at highest risk of violence, and enable DC’s Peacemakers to end gun violence in the District. No one said it better than Mayor Bowser herself: "It will take all of us….let’s lock arms and do that work together…we’re in this together.” Yes, together we will improve outcomes and save lives.
Help us build sustainable funding for the DC Peace Academy with a donation today.
Your contributions make a huge impact:
$300 = an honorarium for one student for two weeks
$10,000 = full tuition for one student
$13,000 = healing circles and 1-on-1 therapy sessions for one cohort
$26,000 = cognitive behavioral therapy training for one cohort
$250,000 = one ENTIRE cohort!
Peace For DC announces the launch of the DC Peace Academy, in collaboration with our amazing co-founders: Alliance of Concerned Men, Blueprint Development, Collaborative Solutions for Communities, Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Father Factor, J&J Monitoring, National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens, and Training Grounds.
The DC Peace Academy launched on May 31, 2022 with its first cohort of 25 experienced community violence intervention workers. The Academy is focused on the personal and professional development of DC’s peacemakers, who serve as frontline workers working in the neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence using the public health approach to reduce shootings and homicides. The curriculum includes 13 weeks of training for frontline workers and is taught by local experts and practitioners. This evidence-based curriculum will supplement training provided by ONSE, OAG, and other government programs, in order to advance the skills and careers of our essential workers. The DC Peace Academy is funded by private donations through The Peace For DC Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation.
With over 300 peacemakers working under government contracts across the city, these essential frontline workers deserve the investment to ensure continuous growth and development as they take on this very important work. In order to build safety and improve outcomes for individuals and neighborhoods, it is critical that these peacemakers receive the additional resources and training on personal and professional development that they need to save the most lives in the shortest amount of time.
For many peacemakers, this is their first job. This advanced training will allow them to excel in their careers. Moreover, they are carrying deep trauma with them from past and ongoing exposure to violence through this job, and they must have additional resources to process their own pain and stress. Peacemaker training programs that have been in existence for many years in other cities have been proven to help “heal the healers” and this program will follow best practices and be independently measured and continuously evaluated.
The DC Peace Academy will invest deeply in frontline workers in order to achieve even greater long-term client outcomes, and reduce shootings & homicides. By strengthening DC’s violence intervention workforce, we will enable greater collaboration among the community organizations doing this work, as they are the drivers of the city’s next phase of safety, peace, and wellness.
Addressing DC’s gun violence crisis and supporting grassroots frontline heroes with privately funded programs is core to Peace For DC’s mission. Creating safer neighborhoods opens the door to further addressing other systemic disparities.
We have a Police Academy. It’s time we have a Peace Academy. Peacemakers form the backbone of DC’s alternative system of public health and safety, and it is time to give them the resources they need to succeed in their careers and in their lives. These brave peacemakers will unleash the transformative potential of the community to create systems and strategies that improve outcomes and reduce violence.
We are going to give these brave frontline workers all the tools they need to be even more effective in their efforts to reduce shootings and homicide, heal trauma, and build thriving communities. From cognitive behavioral therapy to advanced negotiation and conflict resolution skills, we will provide the finest training in the country, free to every organization doing this vital work.
The effectiveness of DC’s public health approach to reducing violence is largely dependent on the investment we make in the individuals serving as our peacemakers. The co-founding organizations are experts in the field and deeply rooted community leaders. It’s time for a new approach that centers the leadership of the city’s violence intervention strategy with the community-based organizations doing the work.