International nonprofit Peace First, actress Jillian Rose Reed and The Allstate Foundation announced today the inaugural Peace First Challenge, which calls on teams of young people across the country to find creative solutions to social issues, such as bullying, poverty and violence.

The 10 teams with the most innovative ideas will compete for up to $50,000 to scale up their concepts, with one team walking away with an investment of up to $10,000.

Through Feb. 17, young people ages 13 to 24 are urged to sign up in teams of three or more – with no upper limit on number of team members – at PeaceFirstChallenge.org. Teams can apply for grants of up to $250 to turn their initial plans into reality, and each team will have access to tools and mentors to help them identify social justice issues they’re passionate about. In May, the 10 teams with the best ideas with the biggest impact – and potential for continued impact – will be selected to compete for an investment of up to $10,000, made possible by The Allstate Foundation, to take their idea to the next level.

“The Allstate Foundation believes good starts young and that young people can make a difference in our world – they just need support and encouragement,” said Vicky Dinges, Allstate’s senior vice president of corporate responsibility. “The most powerful message we can send our youth has four parts: believe in yourself, believe in your ideas and believe in your ability to improve life for others. And if you need help, believe there are people and organizations who are ready to help you.”

The Peace First Challenge is part of The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young initiative, which empowers future generations with the strength, confidence and skills to rise up as leaders and realize their full potential. To date, more than 1.7 million youth have participated in Good Starts Young programs.

As many as 1,000 teams can sign up for the Peace First Challenge on a first-come, first-served basis. The 10 finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges to include nonprofit, business and community leaders, as well as representatives from The Allstate Foundation and Peace First. Finalists will be invited to attend a youth social innovation summit in June, where they will be paired with mentors who are experts on addressing the social injustices each team has chosen to tackle. The finalist teams also will be given access to a pool of up to $50,000 to cover travel costs and accelerator grants.
Reed, social activist and star of the hit MTV show “Awkward,” is putting her star power behind the Peace First Challenge by urging young people to sign up and spearhead local change in their communities.

“When you’re young, you don’t always realize how much impact you can have on the world,” Reed said. “It can seem scary and hopeless at times, even though you want so badly to be an advocate for change. The Peace First Challenge is exactly the kind of starting point young people need to be inspired to make a change in the community that surrounds them.”

In addition to The Allstate Foundation and Reed, 14 national nonprofit Peace First Challenge partners and 500 other community-based leaders and organizations will help recruit teams of young people to accept the Challenge and serve as mentors. Challenge partners include the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girl Scouts, Communities In Schools and The School Superintendents Association.

“From 25 years of experience, we know young people around the country have great ideas to change their communities for the better, but often don’t have access to the support they need to make it happen,” said Eric Dawson, CEO and co-founder of Peace First. “The Peace First Challenge gives them resources to put their ideas into action. We’re very excited to see the solutions and transformations that motivated and empowered young people will deliver to our communities across the country. We’re asking everyone to help share the news about the Challenge and encourage young people to join it and make a difference.”

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