DoPeace

Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

This area is designed to specifically discuss the "Legislation" section of the strategic plan. (Download link for whole plan is below).

We want to know specifically:
• What excites you about it?
• What concerns do you have?
• What could be made better?
• What are ways you want to implement it personally and with your local teams?

Section Contents:

LEGISLATION (C4)

Unlike anytime in history, an awareness of the importance of violence prevention in the United States and peacebuilding work internationally permeates the national discourse and the atmosphere in Washington. President Obama's agenda calls for an "End to the Dangerous Cycle of Youth Violence" and notes the administration's support of "innovative local programs" aimed at the prevention of youth violence. Similarly, officials in the State Department , USAID , and Department of Defense leadership advocate for innovative civilian-driven efforts to build peace across societies in conflict.

The growing consensus in Washington obviously didn’t just ‘happen.’ It is a reflection of an awareness that old ways of business are not working and a reflection of the advancement of the entire field of peacebuilding. The growing consensus is driven by the continuous and demanding work of practitioners on the ground that day in and day out build and sustain relationships with at-risk young people, by the work of peacemakers who delicately bring together divided populaces at war, and by researchers who document the efficacy of peacebuilding work. And the consensus is building because we as advocates, in partnership with our allies, have organized for years district by district and state by state in support of the position that peace is possible and the time for community and legislative change is now. Because of our collective efforts policy makers are seeking to invest in peacemaking, but the question remains: “how?”

At this critical moment, we want to be part of the solution to the ‘how? question’. To do so requires a well-tailored and timely approach to legislation that can specifically meet this challenge. To date our legislative strategy has focused directly on lobbying for a US Department of Peace. While we have made great progress raising awareness and understanding of the importance of peacebuilding, for three consecutive congressional sessions we have not moved past 74 Congressional co-sponsors for each newly presented bill. This challenge has motivated us to reflect on and evaluate our strategy. We have come to recognize that we have lobbied for a Department of Peace to achieve two fundamental goals. One, to create a structure in the federal government that makes peace a priority and gives it a voice at the highest level of power. Second, to establish and enhance peacebuilding programs both in the United States and internationally.

Our greatest success to date is that we have built public and Congressional widespread agreement for the need to support and fund peacebuilding efforts. Yet we have not built similar agreement about changing the structure of our government to meet that need. We believe that to enhance our capacity to effect change in both areas we should look at separating these two fundamental goals into distinct initiatives: Programmatic Change and Federal Structural Change.

Targeted legislative change increases peacebuilding nationally, successfully expands our presence in the House and Senate, builds allies, and serves as a micro model of the larger benefits of the Structural Change we are ultimately seek. By developing tailored strategies for each we will more effectively see peacemaking results on the ground in the short-term while simultaneously building support around the longer-term structural solution.

Structural Change
Department of Peace

a) Engage Congress

To support the Department of Peace proposal we will engage policy makers throughout the country about the Department of Peace and document their excitement and concerns. We hold that the Department of Peace is the most comprehensive measure to date that provides strong structural support to sustainably prioritize violence prevention and peacebuilding efforts in our federal government. The bill itself has changed over the years and will continue to develop with more research and committee mark-ups. We want to know from our policy makers- do they support the US Department model? If not a Department, then what? Documenting the positions of congressional leadership grants us a comprehensive understanding upon which we can build consensus around a structure in the government that truly makes peace a priority.

b) Research and Analyze The Department of Peace and Infrastructures for Peace in the Federal Government

DC staff and interested volunteers will spearhead research and analysis of the proposal to illuminate the best federal structure to build peace. Through Roundtable Discussions we will bring together practitioners, policy experts and members of the relevant departments and agencies to assess their current capacity for peacebuilding and identify ways in which a federal reorganization may strengthen and support their work. We will build an academic and evidence-based case for structural reform.

Programmatic Change

Pass and Fund the Youth PROMISE Act:
The Youth PROMISE Act is a perfect example of a Congressional proposal that if passed could significantly enhance the capacity of our government to support peacemaking programs. The Youth PROMISE Act is an innovative piece of legislation aimed at empowering community stakeholders to drive local violence prevention and intervention efforts. We will work in conjunction with Rep. Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) office, and in partnership with a broad-based coalition, to pass Youth PROMISE Act through the House by the end of 2009, and then through the Senate and appropriations committees by the end of 2010.

Introduce or Endorse International Peacebuilding Legislation: Guided by advice from an advisory council we will introduce or endorse legislation aimed at supporting those internationally who are actively engaged in applied peacebuilding in areas plagued by violence, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, and Darfur.


To facilitate these two goals (programmatic and structural) we have identified some needed actions:

Advisory Councils: We will establish and facilitate Advisory Councils composed of experts from the fields of international peacebuilding, youth violence prevention, post-incarceration community re-entry, and government reform that can uniquely advise the Peace Alliance on policy matters. We will build these groups around the coming year's priorities to ensure we continuously have both domestic and international initiatives.

Survey Network: We will gauge the interest of those in our entire network to guide our legislative priorities as we continue to maintain alignment between the policies we advocate and the priorities of the network.

Develop and Join Coalitions: A plethora of advocacy and service organizations are taking action in support of peacebuilding. We will intentionally connect with our peers both at the local and national levels to grow our collective efforts and collaborate on focused strategies that we will implement together.

Strengthen Congressional Leadership: Leadership on the Hill remains an extremely important aspect of passing legislation. We will continue to strengthen our relationships with House Representatives and members of Senate to support our current legislative initiatives. We will:

• Target key congressional members and their staff determined by committee placement, political clout and personal interest and their staff to build leadership and champion our legislative initiatives. Including developing leadership strategies within the congress among their colleagues

• Develop relationships with all members of the appropriations committee in both houses and work both locally and nationally to strengthen their commitment to our legislative goals.

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Here you go, David. I've attached a PDF version.
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I've missed you Brian. It's so wonderful to see you on this board sharing the fantastic resources you have compiled. You and your family have been in my thoughts.
Thanks for your kind words, appreciation, and thoughts for my family, Janice :)
Likewise, I'm glad to see you participating in this discussion.

I'm thrilled to have found so much information on the Web that contains such solid research and solutions in these areas we're interested in. I'd love to see the people involved with the International Peacebuilding websites and with the Youth Violence Prevention publications become connected with our DoP campaign. They would bring a tremendously rich set of competencies to our advocacy efforts.
Thank you Brian. Valuable points raised, look forward to going through the attached material.
"They are supporting you. That is not work that you have done. You need to do work on the ground to build relationships so your life starts having less of a lily-white color."

Blunt, yes, but a distinction that I had not yet concluded regarding the co-sponsors "of color" supporting us but not necessarily participating in the movement with their constituencies. I don't think that the color our movement presents is as important as the relationship building and inclusiveness with all. The point is well taken; to involve community leaders from a variety of backgrounds.
Q: What excites me?
A: "we will introduce or endorse legislation aimed at supporting those internationally who are actively engaged in applied peacebuilding in areas plagued by violence, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, and Darfur."
Why: This to me is like so exciting. To be able to support efforts for peace in conflict regions under the Department Of peace Campaign is a way to do the work of a Dept of Peace while we lobby, and demonstrate in tangible ways for the general public what a Department of Peace will look like and why its important. And being able to actually contribute to helping these areas of the world find more peace through our campaign efforts will be so deeply, personally satisfying.
A: Advisory Councils: We will establish and facilitate Advisory Councils composed of experts from the fields of international peacebuilding, youth violence prevention, post-incarceration community re-entry, and government reform that can uniquely advise the Peace Alliance on policy matters.
Why: These are our the people working on the front lines of violence whom we hope to serve. It would be ineffective and at cross purposes, in my opionion, not to start with them - and ask what they want and need from our campaign.
Rep. Bobby Rush has introduced new legislation to fund conflict resolution education in the schools:
Kendra Mon, CA 6th Congressional District

For Immediate Release:
November 2, 2009 Contact: Sharon Jenkins, Washington, DC Office, (202) 225.4372
Stephanie Gadlin, District Office (773) 224.6500

Rush introduces "Conflict Resolution and Mediation Act of 2009" to combat youth violence in America

CHICAGO – Today, Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), surrounded by students, educators, community leaders and child welfare advocates at the Gary Comer Academy announced plans to introduce federal legislation to combat violence among America’s youth. The "Conflict Resolution and Mediation Act of 2009" authorizes the U.S. Department of Education to make grants available to local education agencies (LEAs) directly impacted by discord and violent behavior.

The bill also directs the U.S. education secretary to develop a written model for on campus conflict resolution and mediation and to make the model available within 90 days to any LEA requesting such. Rep. Rush’s legislation comes in the wake of a national spotlight placed on Chicago following the September 24 fatal beating of Christian Fenger Academy honor student Derrion Albert whose death was the result of ongoing conflict among students from different neighborhoods.

"We are losing too many young people to violence and prison and it the responsibility of adults to break the cradle-to-jail-to-cemetery pipeline," said Rep. Rush. "Children cannot be expected to resolve their issues by themselves. Youth violence cannot solely be blamed on wayward teenagers. The blame must also be shared with adults and institutions that fail instill key values or provide basic services or an on-campus conflict resolution curriculum and equal protection under the law.

"Without these vital on-campus meditation programs all students are at risk," Rush said. "These programs help young people develop priorities and coping skills—including the victim and the victimizer. These programs save lives. The Conflict Resolution and Mediation Act of 2009 will make sure model programs are funded and available to communities that need them."

In 2008, 34 students were killed and another 290 shot on the streets of Chicago. The previous school year, 23 students were killed and 211 shot, according to public records. A recent Department of Justice report on national violence found that more than 60 percent of children surveyed said they were exposed to violence and nearly half said they personally have been assaulted.

The Conflict Resolution and Mediation Act of 2009 is not Rep. Rush’s first effort to save young lives. Earlier this year, he introduced the Communities in Action Neighborhood Defense and Opportunity Act, or CAN DO, which employs a community-based remedial approach to addressing the issue of youth violence; as well as the Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act that would establish a nationwide system for prohibiting unlicensed gun-ownership. If approved, the law would require gun owners to apply for five-year licenses to own firearms, and would give the U.S. Attorney General broad authority over the program. He is also a co-sponsor of the Youth Promise Act which calls for national standards and evidence-based practices to prevent juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity; a co-sponsor of the Second Chance Act which aims to provide new opportunities for previously incarcerated at-risk youth, and adults.

In 2006 in response to the shooting deaths of Harper honor student Starkeisha Reed and 11-year-old Sieretha White, Rep. Rush created the Working Group for Hope and Healing in Englewood to provide alternatives to youth violence through summer jobs, internships, sports and cultural activities. The public-private partnership put more than 1,000 Englewood youth to work and was instrumental in reducing youth-related violence and conflict in the community that year.

"This is a national epidemic and a national tragedy," Rep. Rush added, "and we must do all we can to protect our greatest resource---our children, our teenagers, our future generations."

Rep. Rush plans to introduce the legislation in Congress this week. A summary of the legislation follows, however, for full text of the legislation please visit http://house.gov/rush:

CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND MEDIATION ACT OF 2009

The purpose of this Act is to provide assistance to local educational agencies for the prevention and reduction of conflict and violence in schools throughout the country.

The Secretary of Education is authorized to make grants to local education agencies (LEAs) to provide assistance to schools most directly affected by conflict and violence.

MODEL PROJECT - The Secretary shall develop a written model for conflict resolution and mediation written within 90 days and make such model available to any LEA that requests such information.

AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS - There are authorized to be appropriated $25,000,000 for fiscal year 2010 and such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2011 through 2015 to carry out the projects under this Act.

(a) IN GENERAL - In order to be eligible to receive a grant under this Act for any fiscal year, a LEAs shall submit an application to the Secretary in such form and containing such information as the Secretary may reasonably require.

(b) REQUIREMENTS - Each application under subsection (a) shall include--

1. a request for funds for the purposes described in section 2(b);
2. information of the school and communities to be served by the grant, including the nature of the conflict and violence problems within and around the school;
3. statistical information in such form and containing such information that the Secretary may require regarding conflict and violence within the elementary school and surrounding communities; and
4. assurances that Federal funds received under this Act shall be used to supplement, not supplant, non-Federal funds that would otherwise be available for activities funded under this Act.

(c) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN - Each application shall include a comprehensive plan that shall contain--

1. a description of the conflict and violence problems within the elementary school and surrounding community targeted for assistance;
2. a description of the resources available in the community to help implement the plan together with a description of the areas in the plan that cannot be filled with existing resources; and
3. a description of the system the applicant will establish to prevent and reduce ongoing conflict and violence problems.

(a) ADMINISTRATIVE COST LIMITATION - The Secretary shall use not more than 5 percent of the funds available under this Act for the purposes of administration and technical assistance.

(b) RENEWAL OF GRANTS - A grant under this Act may be renewed for not more than 2 additional years after the first fiscal year during which the recipient receives an initial grant under this Act, subject to the availability of funds, if—

1. the Secretary determines that the funds made available to the recipient during the previous year were used in a manner required under the approved application; and
2. the Secretary determines that an additional grant is necessary to implement the violence prevention program described in the comprehensive plan as required by section 5(c).

SEC. 7. AWARD OF GRANTS.

(a) SELECTION OF RECIPIENTS - The Secretary shall consider the following factors in awarding grants to LEAs:

1. CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE PROBLEM - The nature and scope of the violence problem in the targeted schools.
2. NEED AND ABILITY - Demonstrated need and evidence of the ability to provide the services described in the plan required under section 5(c).
3. POPULATION - The number of students to be served by the plan required under section 5(c).

(b) GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION - The Secretary shall attempt, to the extent practicable, to achieve an equitable geographic distribution of grant awards.

SEC. 8. REPORTS.

(a) REPORTS - LEAs that receive funds under this Act shall submit to the Secretary a detailed report not later than March 1 of each year that describes progress achieved in carrying out the plan required under section 5(c).

(b) REPORT TO CONGRESS - The Secretary shall submit to the Congress a report by October 1 of each year in which grants are made available under this Act which shall contain a detailed statement regarding grant awards, activities of grant recipients, a compilation of statistical information submitted by applicants under section 5(b)(3), and an evaluation of programs established under this Act.

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