Support our Young Peacemakers & Community-Builders!

These young people give us hope for the future. And they need our support. 

We all need a good dose of hope right now! What gives YOU hope – even in times when the news is devastating?

PAZ students with a hugg-a-planet

For me, hope can look like the blossoming social movements for climate justice and peace. It can look like parents and caregivers heading to their state capitol to call for educational equity.

It can also look like steady, deep work that isn’t so visible. I’m thinking about a group of 5th graders from public schools in central Harlem’s District 5, who are learning to become circle keepers. With the support of Morningside staff developer Nicole Lavonne Smith-Johnson, these young people will soon begin facilitating circles with younger peers, helping to create a sense of belonging for the little ones from the very start.

Hope can also look like 9th graders at Leadership and Public Service High School in lower Manhattan, where Lauren Neidhardt and Ava Daniel are supporting an entire class through a year-long journey to build their own leadership skills. These young people are learning and practicing skills in resolving conflict, promoting racial justice, and building civic engagement.

All of these young leaders inspire my optimism for the future. They restore my faith in the capacity of humans to build trust across our differences and resolve our conflicts without war.

And YOU give me hope as well. THANK YOU for helping to make this ongoing peacemaking possible in hundreds of school communities through your generous support of Morningside Center. Please ensure that this work continues in 2024 by donating now to our year-end fund appeal.

As we’ve seen over and over in our work with both young people and adults, belonging and connection are the foundation for both reducing conflicts and resolving them peacefully. Circles not only foster connection, they also provide sustaining and healing support in extremely stressful times. The young people we’re working with are learning community-building and peace-making skills they can use throughout their lives. They are proud of their leadership roles.

Imagine what the world might look like if everyone entered adulthood with such skills.

During this holiday season, your contribution to Morningside is a vote of confidence in these young people – and in all the educators, principals, parents and caregivers, after-school staff, and young people from preK to 12 who are part of our work. Please give generously!

With warm wishes for a more peaceful and just new year,


Cassie Schwerner, Executive Director


PS: Here are some highlights of the work you’ve made possible in 2023. And for a wider lens, watch our new 90-second video!