20 years of building connections with youth in foster care 

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"IT TAKES A VILLAGE" - BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT VILLAGE DOESN'T EXIST? 

20 years ago, we set out to answer that question

Founded on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence, Peace4Kids inspired to build a supportive community for youth in foster care in South Los Angeles.

We weren’t preachers or teachers. Instead, our early years were spent listening and discovering. Tired from hiding in the shadows, our youth were ready to share the strengths gained from their unique experiences and trauma. Honoring their journey helped signal their importance and value in the community. With this profound insight, “Community as Family” emerged and continues to shape how we engage today.

Our youth demonstrated the value of acknowledging personal experience and trauma leading the way for Peace4Kids to develop into a space of healing and discovery for all. Our "Village" has grown organically and exponentially: engaged youth, committed volunteers and community leaders all contribute to our success. Through consistency, trust and deep vulnerability, we've formed life-long relationships.

We’re truly grateful for the thousands of youth we've connected with, and thank each and every one of you for being a part of our Community as Family

 

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Foster Support
Foster Community
Donate Today Volunteer

We can't do it without YOU! Support 100% free programming for South Los Angeles youth in foster care by making your gift today.

Join the Family! Through our programs and training, volunteers develop the skills and knowledge that support foster youth success. 

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Foster Sustainability
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Our campaigners have done some pretty amazing things to build a sustainable and vibrant future for youth in foster care. What will YOU do? Email us to learn more!

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With youth in foster care facing challenging odds, they deserve a supportive community that nurtures their gifts

At Peace4Kids, our vision of "Community As Family" provides consistency, stability and trust - so that youth in care reach their highest potential
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ON AVERAGE, FOSTER YOUTH WILL MOVE 7 TIMES DURING PLACEMENT

1 in 5 WILL BE HOMELESS UPON EXITING CARE
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 1 in 4 FOSTER CARE ALUMNI EXPERIENCE PTSD  

NEARLY 50% of YOUTH EXITING CARE WILL NOT HAVE FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL

unknown_hero.jpgWhat makes a Super Hero?

Heroes are born when the world they once knew tragically falls apart. This moment inspires an unexpected pursuit of greatness as they must find the light to guide them through the darkness.


Thinking back to the story of the great super heroes, we're reminded of the experience of our youth. Often feeling isolated and alone, society teaches them that their experiences make them “at risk.” Everyday interactions in our community perpetuate this isolation with the most common phrases like, “take this home to your parents” or “what time is your mom picking you up?” Our young folks are forced to move through life trying to overcome the public's perception of “who they are.”

If you look deeper into Super Hero stories, there's an even more surprising connection… 

All of these heroes were youth in foster care!

⚡️Batman is raised by his Butler [non-relative caregiver]

⚡️Superman is taken in by a family in Kansas [adoption]

⚡️Storm is brought to a home for mutant children [group home]

 


To overcome public perceptions, youth in foster care must be super human.

For 20 years, Peace4Kids has been a safe space for youth to honor the pain of their past and learn to embrace a future that builds on their individual and collective strengths. A home for heroes.

As a result, our youth have received awards from the White House, built innovative structures to feed the community, and even been named to Time Magazine’s “Most Influential People Under 30.”

While these stories are phenomenal, our youth are ready to do more!


Join our Heroes Circle today – Click the button below to make a recurring gift to secure the future for a youth in foster care

For our 20th Anniversary, Peace4Kids is expanding programming to more deeply serve young adults ages 18 – 25. We've learned that these years are the most critical time for the youth in our community. Suddenly the foster care system that once shielded them, thrusts them into a world that is unforgiving to their journey.

By stepping into our Heroes Circle with a monthly donation, you'll build a sustainable future for youth transitioning out of foster care. 100% of your donation funds strength based, youth focused programming in South LA - honoring each youth’s unique needs, experiences, abilities and legacy. In return, you'll:

⚡️Be invited to exclusive events

⚡️Receive a limited edition 20 Year Anniversary t-shirt

⚡️Be inspired by stories of resilience, strength and promise from our Peace4Kids family

⚡️#SeeTheHero in our youth, because the truth is… that’s who they are. 

 


what's new?

  • Latest from the blog

    They Think We're Criminals

    Two years ago, while sitting around the table at our monthly Family Dinners, one of our teens shared a recent experience of being treated like a criminal and "troubled kid." This caused a boisterous reaction from all the folks in the room, young and old, who've had a lived experience in foster care. Their descriptions of how social workers and educators treated them were hard to swallow. Even worse was how general members of the public engaged with them once they found out they were in foster care.  Whether in the media, in the community, in the classroom or with social workers, youth in foster care feel they are defined by their deficiencies, not by their strengths. If true, this must contribute to a self-fulfilling dynamic of negative behaviors and outcomes. As the conversation continued into the night, the focus shifted from laughter and comparing stories, to a collective energy around changing this experience for future generations. It was decided that the first step would be to validate their experience, then to share their findings - ultimately "holding a mirror up" for the public. From there, we compiled a research team led by Dr. Leslie Ponciano who worked in collaboration with our teens and alumni to complete Phase 1 of our new "Changing The Narrative" initiative - a formal research component that will ultimately inform curriculum-based training and support for the education and social service sectors. The survey was completed by nearly 2,500 members of the public in Los Angeles and the results were no surprise to our community. Perhaps the most validating piece of data came from the public’s perception of youth in foster care in the media. Results from our survey (chart below & full report HERE) suggest that there is an overwhelming bias in the perception of media portrayal of youth in foster care. Specifically, youth in foster care are seen as being portrayed as victims, criminals, survivors and drug addicts. They are significantly less likely to be perceived as professionals, role models, mentors, loving parents / children and heroes. This suggests a systematic bias in the perception of youth in foster care toward negative stereotypes.   The foster care alumni who reviewed these results were struck by the lack of positive images that the public identified. The only potential positive media portrayal in the top 5 was “survivor”. However, this was coded as a neutral media portrayal by our research team as the foster care alumni explained that a “survivor” portrayal is often tied to the more negative identity of being a “victim”. The positive coded media portrayals all came in with only 5% or less of respondents expressing that they would see youth in foster care in these types of roles. Through our first phase of research, Changing the Narrative has collected and analyzed preliminary data to measure the extent and depth of this implicit bias and guide further inquiry. This report highlights our initial findings, which will set the course for the Changing the Narrative project over the next few years. Our ongoing research is the evidence-based foundation for professional development training targeting the education and social service sectors to change the narrative about youth in care. I am honored and privileged that Peace4Kids, our youth and alumni are leading Changing the Narrative. This project combines rigorous academic research, youth-centered participation and tangible systems change. If we are to shift the perceptions of youth in foster care, then the policies and practices of our government and child welfare must also take center stage so that a clear understanding of the context can be achieved. Peace4Kids will invest it’s time and resources to this conversation and will be sharing our discoveries through blogs and podcast. The perspective of our youth and alumni must be amplified if we truly seek to create an equitable society. To support Changing The Narrative, please consider: Joining our Heroes Circle with a monthly recurring gift or increasing your ongoing contribution! Contacting Zaid to participate in the research or to help P4K create media that is informed by those with a lived experience. In peace and possibilities,  Zaid Gayle Executive Director Zaid@Peace4Kids.org
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    Breaking Down Barriers

    After 12 years in the P4K community, we're excited to share that Antwoine Laws is the first qualified candidate to accept Peace4Kids brand new housing opportunity in LA! Yes, his positive energy and smile are contagious (we can all agree to that) but it's his hard work and genuine care for himself and others that make Antwoine the perfect partner for the launch of this program. Go brother Antwoine! Keep paving the way for the future!!! ---- Last year, when Antwoine and our LEAD group developed a list of barriers to their success, homelessness was at the top of the list. Affordable housing is near impossible to come by in Los Angeles and with rental rates often pricing out potential renters, we have lost many Peace4Kids alumni to neighboring cities and states; forced into another move by a system that has failed to adequately serve them. We brainstormed ideas, and shared their list with our volunteers and stakeholders asking folks to support our increased efforts to support our Transitional Age Youth (TAY).  In response, over 100 supporters joined our Heroes Circle by signing up for recurring monthly donations. One family, the Mathews were so struck by the housing disparity that they launched their very own foundation Home4LAYouths and offered Peace4Kids TAY a whole floor of apartment units in a building they own in Downtown LA.  These units would be offered well below market rate, but we still needed financial support to cover the gap that might exist for some of our transitioning youth. One of our alumni, Angelica Nwandu, was so touched by this family’s generosity that she decided to match their financial gift with one of her own — a $50,000 commitment! Because of these gifts, more youth will have the opportunity to stay in their community to fulfill their educational and career goals. Most importantly, they will gain a sense of ownership and fidelity over their destiny. Antwoine Laws is the first recipient of this housing opportunity. When asked about his initial reaction to the news Antwoine said, “I was shaking. This is a place I can finally call my own - and even though I'm having this adventure on my own, there's still somebody (the Mathew's family) so close that's looking out for me, and that's really dope!" This month, in honor of National Foster Care month, we're excited to share our ongoing strategies to positively change the outcomes of youth in foster care. Watch the video below to hear more from Antwoine, and join the movement today by becoming a part of our Heroes Circle! 
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