Raising Youth Voices was created to bring the experience of dialogue and leadership development to local San Diego youth. Hands of Peace initiated the Raising Youth Voices program in 2019 with funding from the San Diego Foundation’s Peacemakers Fund.

The 2020 Raising Youth Voices program took place from January – June. Diverse participants were recruited from 15 different high schools in San Diego County to learn how to facilitate dialogue.

They took part in two training sessions, led by Professor of Practice Michael Fryer from the University of San Diego: Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, where they acquired the necessary skills for leading healthy conversations in their communities. The youth then participated in a structured dialogue about the effect of COVID on education.

Volunteer facilitators from the Raising Youth Voices program and the Hands of Peace Alumni Circle benefited from an extra training on how to lead a dialogue in the virtual space, led by Hands of Peace: Raising Youth Voices Coordinator Dania Zanaid and Outreach Coordinator Maeve Plunkett. The teens also selected the topic and developed discussion questions to be used in a facilitated dialogue — “A Conversation about Racism” — led by youth for youth. Then the participants got to practice their facilitation skills and build their confidence as they lead more than 30 high school and college students in the “Conversation about Racism.” They came together virtually, learned from one another’s lived experiences, and increased their our own understanding of their role as leaders of change.

One of the Raising Youth Voices participants created this helpful list that includes actions to take, further readings, and organizations to support. If you would like to add to this list, email your suggestion to info@handsofpeace.org with “RYV Resource” in the subject line.

A lot is going on in the world right now and this was a great way to take a step back, reflect, while still being present and educated on what is going on.



It was very helpful to have people from different cultures and backgrounds come together and share ideas on how to combat these issues.