Our Philosophy & Curriculum
FFI Theory of Change
FFI started as a youth program, but it became apparent over recent years that a broader-based approach was necessary to achieve our mission. We realized we do not exist to provide youth programs. We exist to build passionate, skilled, and empathic leaders who will become vital resources and be part of a global network committed to solving their communities' most significant challenges. These leaders are the vehicle for creating social justice and positive change around the world. Many participants happen to be youth, but we are not solely a youth program.
FFI believes that to build a better world, individuals must simultaneously connect with themselves, with each other, and with the earth. When a person builds skills and self-confidence by overcoming fear and apathy with others’ help, they realize that they can take these skills to overcome challenges in their community. We also aspire to tackle the greatest conflict of all through our programs: that between the human species and our planet.
FFI will create lasting and systemic change in the field of empathetic global leadership development and conflict transformation in five ways:
Be the most rigorous empathy-based leadership development program in the world—every day.
Selecting partners around the world based on specific criteria. This criterion includes spheres of influence in geography, demographics, reputation, staff, and potential growth. By impacting and incorporating partner agencies from these communities into the FFI school of thought, we thereby have long-lasting influence portals into targeted cities and regions.
Creating a new "language" where youth, elders, immigrants, and other marginalized groups are not seen as a problem to be solved in society, but the solution to society's issues.
Bringing innovation to the forefront of this work and integrating new methodologies
Establishing physical hubs worldwide to conserve resources, reduce our carbon footprint, and exponentially increase our accessibility, reach, and impact.
These values guide our programs and philosophy for curriculum development.
R. Identifying RESILIENCE
Trying new things, being out of your comfort zone, and making mistakes, are crucial parts of living a healthy life. We increase our participant's confidence in their ability to overcome challenges by encouraging them to view failure as an opportunity to learn. Developing the habit of facing your fears, as opposed to avoiding them, is an essential leadership skill.
E. Practicing EMPATHY
Exposure to individuals from a variety of life circumstances and diverse backgrounds allows participants to better connect with those who are different from them. The experiences of intentional service-learning, hearing others’ stories, and self-reflection inspire participants to take action in their communities and be compassionate leaders.
C. Strengthening COMMUNICATION
Listening with an open heart and sharing your vulnerabilities and strengths are cornerstones of authentic interaction. Practicing story-telling, creative expression, and intergroup dialogue teach participants to speak and listen with confidence. Effective leadership requires effective communication.
I. Achieving IMPACT
Small-scale, hands-on experiences reveal to participants that they can consciously affect their world at any age and any time. They identify creative solutions to problems in their own communities and we provide them with the tools and lifelong guidance to turn their ideas into lasting, systemic change. Our leaders undergo a personal transformation, recognizing that as they impact others, the biggest impact occurs within themselves.
P. Encouraging PLAYFULNESS
By creating a lighthearted and spontaneous culture, we encourage a fun and open environment. Participants innovate without fear, explore different ways of thinking, and practice negotiating conflict. This culture builds bonds between people of all ages and backgrounds as they imagine a better world together. Rediscovering your imagination is essential to becoming a visionary leader.
E. Giving EFFORT
FFI values hard work. We demand the most from ourselves and therefore every program we offer is demanding. Embracing this challenge, participants set the highest goals and work to achieve them, ultimately raising their self-esteem. This gives them the mental, emotional, and spiritual foundation that is necessary to live a fulfilling life. Every leader knows that all things that are worthwhile involve 100% effort; you get out of life what you put into it.
Passion + Purpose + Play = Inner Peace
When delivering programs, inspiring participants, and engaging community members, one practice we use is our unique take on three inner peace elements: passion, purpose, and play. Organizations that offer programs focused on large geopolitical challenges can be daunting and lead to participants feeling overwhelmed. FFI works to help people understand that peace must first come from within before it can be realized in one’s family, the community, or the world.
Being passionate about everything you do is one of the more rewarding aspects of being human. Through the process of reframing daily life experiences into daily adventures, our leaders discover and develop life-long passions. By activating and sharing your passions you are able to engage with the world in a more meaningful way.
People with a purpose are healthier both mentally and physically than those without one. Serving others as part of a greater purpose elevates and empowers individuals to grow beyond the “victim” mentality. Through intentional volunteering, our leaders understand that living with purpose is an essential habit for living a fulfilling life.
Risk-taking, exploration, enthusiasm, humor, and open-mindedness are often only associated with being young. By removing the negative factors that suppress a sense of play, our participants regain their natural instinct for adventure. Combining a sense of playfulness with your passions and purpose in life puts you on a path to achieve inner peace.
Our leadership method
FFI focuses on teaching social, communication, and goal-setting skills through rigorous practice. We build empathic leaders by combining their passion to build a better world with the skills required to make it a reality.
These modules create a safe environment to improve team cohesion, lay a foundation for future work, and demonstrate the impact that a team can have when working together.
Provide a safe space for
weaknesses, and interests
Set team and individual goals
These modules are designed to introduce the theory and practice of Compassionate Communication in both individual experience and group dynamics.
Learn the Compassionate Communication structure
Develop tools for navigating emotions in communication
Develop active listening and observation skills
Learn and practice empathetic communication techniques
Explore the mediator role
Partake in active dialogue
These modules empower participants to be confident speaking in front of people and learn how to write a strong speech.
Gain confidence in public speaking
Learn to share one's story
Experience real-life public speaking
These modules help participants learn about themselves and their teammates. How does identity shape life experiences?
Explore and understand individual experiences
Learn about how stereotyping, inequality, and privilege impact opportunity
Understand each individual's identity both in how they see themselves and how others see them
Participants will learn the process of how to identify what they want to achieve for themselves and for their communities both now and in the future.
Learn to organize one's vision
Introduce a goal setting method
Provide concrete action steps to achieving goals
As the closing module for all
30- and 18-Session Programs,
participants will look back on
their program, identify moments
of growth, and explore what
Reflect on the skills learned
throughout the program
Understand next steps
Our approach to multiculturalism
FFI is built on the idea that cultural exchange fosters compassion, empathy, and understanding of all cultures, histories, and viewpoints. Our global network, cultivated over three decades, makes FFI uniquely qualified to provide cultural exchange. In these courses, participants will interact directly with our global alumni.
Northern Irish Cultural Exchange
In this course, participants will learn about Northern Ireland's culture, traditions, and conflict directly from FFI alumni.
Explore Northern Irish culture
Introduce Northern Ireland's institutions and geography
Understand both perspectives of the Northern Ireland Conflict
Jewish Israeli/Palestinian Israeli Cultural Exchange
In this course, participants will learn about Jewish Israeli/Palestinian Israeli culture, traditions, and conflict directly from FFI alumni.
Explore Jewish Israeli/Palestinian Israeli culture
Introduce Israel's institutions and geography
Understand both perspectives of the Jewish Israeli/Palestinian Israeli conflict
In this course, participants will gain a deeper understanding of their own family history and how it relates to their community's history.
Gain deeper knowledge of family history
Learn interview skills
Start understanding community history
Creativity & Arts
Exploring expression and activism
Recognizing the positive impact creativity has on the human brain, this part of our curriculum involves introducing our participants to different types of artistic mediums and ways they can utilize them!
In this course, participants will learn and practice creative writing styles. They will learn to share their stories using diverse writing practices.
Gain knowledge of creative writing
Develop creative writing skills
Produce a final creative writing piece
These modules are designed to provide access to art and to emphasize playfulness. Participants will create multiple pieces as they explore a variety of mediums.
Increase exposure to hands-on art
Learn new art mediums
Understand the intersection of art and social change
This course empowers participants to be photographers by exploring the basics of taking photos, editing, and different photography styles. Participants will take and edit photos to effectively tell a story.
Learn the basics of photography
Explore different styles of photography
Understand the intersection of photography and social change
People, passion, planet
FFI knows that the most essential conflict in need of transformation today is that between humans and the planet we reside on. In this concentration, we explore new ways of understanding the interdependence of species, our impact on our environment, and how we relate to the natural world.
Flora & Fauna
Reducing conflict in ourselves
FFI challenges the traditional Western approaches to healthy living and sees it as a more holistic way of life. We understand that one's health is reflected physically, mentally, and spiritually. These courses are designed to provide a deeper knowledge of how individuals and communities can begin to attain optimal health on all levels.
Flora & Fauna
Finding connection in the outdoors
Life is without meaning if it is without adventure. FFI has designed these courses to focus on integrating the five senses with a variety of challenging programs in different environments to create a unique active learning experience.