On Monday night I had a great chance to see Peace First’s new fellowship initiative in action! As a new member of the New Profit family I’ve been eager to connect with our portfolio organizations and the great work they’re doing.
Together with other supporters, I participated in a strategy session led by Peace First CEO Eric Dawson and 15-year-old Nicholas Lowinger. Nicholas is one of 10 inaugural Peace First Fellows. He is the founder of an innovative non-profit called Gotta Have Sole that provides children living in homeless shelters with new shoes. Nick spoke about the roots of his efforts, inspired by volunteer opportunities at a local shelter beginning at the age of 5, Nick was struck by the stark reality children living in shelters face and compelled to take action. He shared the logistical structure of his organization, which began in his parents garage turned warehouse, and his big vision to create culture change and shift the way students think about homelessness and its impact. To date, his efforts have served over 8,000 children and Nick remains focused on the individual impact, delivering shoes in person whenever possible and learning from the stories of the children he’s met living in homeless shelters across the country.
Having grown up in Rhode Island, where Gotta Have Sole began, and having worked on policy and advocacy for children experiencing homelessness, Nick’s efforts really resonated with me. But moreover, the event reminded me about the amazing potential that manifests in young people across the country who are empowered to look at challenges in their community as a way to bring people together and make a difference that changes the lives of individuals and our culture more broadly. Coupling this kind of passion and vision with coaching and resources is a great opportunity – the Fellows in Peace First’s program receive support in thinking about their organization’s strategic plans, potential to scale, and theories of change as well as an infusion of funding. I am eager to see what the Fellows collectively accomplish in the year ahead.
Thanks for the inspiring conversation Nick and thanks to Peace First for creating space to support great entrepreneurs like Nick and encourage us all to think about our impact.
Sarah Groh, Analyst
New Profit Inc.