Cross Community Engagement Models

Cities across the United States are often a diverse mix of racial, ethnic, or religious communities. Latent tensions arising from misunderstandings or perceived identity-based threats can remain hidden from view until triggered, posing a risk to the security and stability of the whole city.

Global Peace Foundation in partnership with Cooperation Ireland, launched the Cross-Community Engagement (CCE) pilot program in Jersey City, New Jersey in 2016. Stakeholders included the U.S. Administration on Children and Families and many local social service providers and community organizations.

The CCE approach in Jersey City, part of the New York metropolitan region, is based on Cooperation Ireland’s 30-year history working with Protestant and Catholic youth and encouraging interaction, dialogue, and practical collaboration within Northern Ireland and between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The project model was adapted to fit a diverse, urban U.S. context.

CCE takes a proactive approach in the prevention of conflict and extremism, with an emphasis on youth leadership development. CCE engages small groups of diverse youth. It fosters long-term peacebuilding and positive youth leadership development through a series of workshops, field trips and activities designed to build cross-cultural relationships.

Through a facilitated community mapping process, youth design and implement a community service or social enterprise project to address a need in their own community—putting their acquired leadership skills into practice. By the end of the program, youth gain resume-worthy training, community development expertise, and real-life entrepreneurial experiences in implementing a social enterprise project – as well as making new friends and strengthening community connections.

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