PeaceMaker Minnesota History & Development
Inspired to promote peace and wanting to do something to reduce violence in the world, five households contributed just over $8,000 to start a charity. Incorporated on July 7, 1998 as Peace Maker Foundation the organization began providing scholarships to college students conducting international research about peacemaking.
In 2000 the organization began providing financial assistance to schools, giving $400 to Trinity Catholic School in St. Paul. Strengthening school-based violence prevention efforts soon afterwards became the organization’s sole focus. The thank you note from the school reads:
“Your concept is a great idea and I wish you well in the implementation of this foundation. Starting in our own little corner of the world is the best place to start with the hope of it moving far beyond our own space. What an impact this can make in our families and neighborhood and beyond. Thank you for your efforts in this beginning.” Sister Virginia Bieren, SSND, Development Director, Trinity Catholic School
Peace Maker Foundation became a payroll giving option for State of Minnesota employees in 2005 and soon after became a giving option for county, city, educational and nonprofit organizations in the East Metro. With increased revenue, Dan McNeil, was hired on a part-time basis as the Executive Director. During 2011 PeaceMaker opened an office and in 2012 changed its name to PeaceMaker Minnesota to more clearly communicate that it is not a foundation – but a public charity relying on broad community support to help schools to be safer places and youth to develop positive relational skills.
PeaceMaker’s 2011 – 2013 strategic plan directed the organization to identify the characteristics of the most effective school-based violence prevention efforts. As a result of nearly two years of research and consultation with schools, PeaceMaker Minnesota developed a six point framework for preventing youth violence.
One of the points of the framework is for schools to assess their work each year. To help schools implement this best practice, PeaceMaker Minnesota’s evaluation service began in 2014 with Hazelden Publishing, The Improve Group, and the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club as partners. Hazelden sells the most comprehensive student survey on bullying and The Improve Group, an independent evaluation company provides a summary and analysis of a school’s survey results. The Minnesota Twins help to publicly recognize the schools that achieve exemplary results.
PeaceMaker Minnesota’s 2015 – 2017 strategic plan calls for providing evaluation services to 24 schools and to achieve a net reduction of 100 students who report being frequently bullied. To help schools to continually improve their student survey results, the plan also calls for PeaceMaker to develop a consulting / training service. The service, which began in 2016, helps schools to implement the six-point framework for preventing youth violence by developing plans, selecting programs, connecting with resources, reaching out to parents and students, and training staff.
With continued support from volunteers and donors, PeaceMaker Minnesota’s vision to help create a more peaceful world moves forward. As a nearly all volunteer organization that does not receive public funding you determine how many children learn that it is not OK to hurt others, the importance of standing up for oneself and others, and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.