We catalyze authentic cooperation between leaders at all levels and their outside partners where the unique experience, wisdom and resources of each are valued and utilized to co-create healthy communities and a more peaceful world.

We build peace from the inside out.

We believe the resources and wisdom of ordinary people in local communities—those people and places most impacted by wars and conflict—are too often ignored or undervalued in conventional international approaches to post-war justice, development, and peacebuilding.

In this ‘outside-in’ approach, problem-solving resources and capacities are brought in or worse imposed from the outside and the locus of leadership stays at the national or even international level. This leaves critical resources for peace untapped, makes the results less sustainable, and can actually leave communities worse off and less able to handle the next challenge they face, whatever it may be.

We believe this needs to change.

We know there is a harder, better way to build peace: from the inside out.

At Catalyst for Peace, we see local people and communities not as problems or as victims—but as leaders, peacebuilders, healers, and agents of change. We use our talents and resources to create space for local leaders and solutions to emerge. That means working in-depth, responsively, and over long periods of time, so that programming springs from locally defined needs and desires. We build and advocate for long-term structures and systems to address difficult, real-world problems, while also developing the local resources required to sustain the healthy systems. We want the legacy of outside support to be more than rusty NGO signs littering the landscape, but whole and thriving communities, capable of leading in their own development and peace.

Our longtime program partner is Fambul Tok, the groundbreaking, large-scale, locally owned and led peacebuilding and reconciliation program that is helping people and communities all across Sierra Leone to heal. Co-creating, funding and partnering from the beginning of the program has given us an intensive living ‘collaboratory’ for learning how to cultivate insider/outsider relationships that are mutually nourishing and strengthening at every level. Helping to shepherd Fambul Tok’s courageous and committed reconciliation and community development efforts to a place of strength and success, we have seen firsthand that building peace from the inside out works.

Building peace that supports local agency and is also strategic and systemically impactful has required a strong, multi-disciplinary platform for practice and learning. Under the leadership of Libby Hoffman, the CFP platform has included:

  • Courageous and committed practitioners and funders wanting to grow locally-owned and -led peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts
  • Courageous storytellers and communicators, finding and sharing stories of peace as they are unfolding to challenge audiences and inspire change
  • Organizational leaders and consultants committed to developing other leaders while also growing and strengthening the structures that sustain and support their work
  • Spiritual leaders, educators, scholars and trainers, calling us to our highest purpose, individually and organizationally, and supporting us in living it out 
  • Advocates, policymakers, parents, students, ex-combatants and more – recognizing the goodness right where we are, amplifying it and helping others do the same.

And now we want to see it grow.

We want to see more work that builds peace from the inside out. We want to explore the lessons of an inside-out approach and practice for other settings and other arenas. As we share our experience and our learning, we invite you to do the same. Let’s learn from and with each other to magnify our potential for good.

Home page banner image (c) Sara Terry for Catalyst for Peace