Fight for Peace Builds a Better Brigade

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Can innovation skills typically used to crack business challenges help at-risk youth escape lives of crime? Our latest ?What If! Foundation partnership put us to the test.

Getting Ready to Grow

In 2000 former boxer Luke Dowdney founded Luta Pela Paz to combat Rio de Janeiro’s rising tide of gun violence and drug trafficking. Recognized by the United Nations as a model for youth crime prevention, the charitable organization teaches boxing and martial arts alongside a personal-development curriculum to help at-risk youth avoid a life of crime, get an education, and earn a living wage. In 2007, Fight for Peace expanded from the favelas of Rio to the streets of London, where gang activity was experiencing a sudden rise.

But at the start of its partnership with ?What If! in 2009, Fight for Peace was a success story at a crossroads. Its leaders were ready to expand but struggling to do so without compromising the power of their mission or straining their highly limited resources.

?What If! tapped in to its deep retail experience to help the organization create a new revenue stream: Luta, an all-new line of street-ready apparel.

?What If! helped Fight for Peace define its growth objectives and clarify its goals.

Teaching the Teachers

?What If! helped Fight for Peace define its growth objectives and clarify its goals. The organization’s leaders realized that success wasn’t about building the brand, winning awards, or nabbing grants—it was about efficiently and quickly reaching as many at-risk youth as possible. Together, ?What If! and Fight for Peace invented a new model for growth: Instead of trying to replicate its program from scratch in every market, a centralized training organization to “teach the teachers” was launched.

And, to strengthen Fight for Peace’s resources for growth, ?What If! tapped in to its deep retail experience to help the organization create a new revenue stream: Luta, an all-new line of street-ready apparel.

Greater Reach, Bigger Impact

Luta, an original street-wear clothing line, raised a full round of commercial investment and launched in May 2011. With this independent stream of income, Fight for Peace is expected to reach tens of thousands of young people by 2020.

Currently the organization works with nearly 2,000 at-risk youth. The Fight for Peace Training Program is being tested in 11 locations this fall and is scheduled to launch in February 2012. In the 7 to 10 years it would take to formally replicate Fight for Peace in just two countries, this training program will teach hundreds of people how to deliver lasting change in their own schools, prisons, community centers, and boxing clubs throughout the world. For more, visit www.fightforpeace.net

Currently the organization works with nearly 2,000 at-risk youth. The Fight for Peace Training Program is being tested in 11 locations this fall and is scheduled to launch in February 2012.

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FROM the greenhouse