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 the biggest challenges in their communities. These (young) people are the vehicle for creating social justice and positive change around the world. Many happen to be youth and working with youth is a higher return on investment, but we are not solely a youth program.
Instead, FFI develops multi-year programs that impact people, from kids to seniors in their 70s and 80s. There is a vacuum in most western societies for programs that serve individuals above the age of 18 and this diminishes as you go up in age.
FFI will create lasting and systemic change in the field of Empathetic Global Leadership Development and Conflict Transformation in 5 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 terms of 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” whereas youth, elders, immigrants, and other marginalized groups are not seen as a problem to be solved in society, but the solution to the problems in society
Bringing Innovation to the forefront of this work and integrating new methodologies by partnering with design firms, universities, corporate entities, artist collaboratives, and harnessing the crowdsource potential of individuals to solve challenges in the field
Creating a series of physical centers around the world as “Peace-labs” where building bridges via shared passions over rivers of a conflict can occur & where all of the above can be realized
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.
Purpose + Passion + Play = Inner Peace
One theory that we use when determining programs, evaluating partners, inspiring the youth, and orienting volunteers and donors, is our unique take on three elements of inner peace. There are many youth organizations that are focused on large geo-political challenges that we have found can be daunting to the majority of youth and leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed. FFI works to help young people understand that peace must first come from within before it can be realized in one’s family, the community, and the world.
Serving others as part of a greater purpose elevates individuals beyond a “victim” status and into an “empowered” status. People with purpose have vitality and will to live that separates them from most people who do not. What is important is that this purpose of serving others is realized so that our leaders begin to understand that living with purpose is an essential habit to develop.
Being in the presence of someone passionate about something is one of the more rewarding aspects of being a human. When you are passionate about something, your brain is networking in different ways and creating new connections.
This term means the sense of risk-taking, exploration, enthusiasm, humor, and open-mindedness that is often synonymous with youth. Unfortunately, people are losing this natural tendency for adventure because of technology, helicopter parents and schools, and fear of the environment in which they live. By incorporating a sense of playfulness in your passions and purpose in life, you become a fully actualized human being.
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.
These modules are designed to improve communication skills and introduce the concepts of empathy, listening, and conversation.
These modules empower participants to be confident speaking in front of people and learn how to write a strong speech.
These modules help participants learn about themselves and their teammates. How does identity shape life experiences?
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.
As the closing module for all 30- and 18-Session Programs, participants will reflect on their program and identify 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.
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.
In this course, participants will gain a deeper understanding of their own family history and how it relates to their community's 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.