The American Refugee Committee (A.R.C.) was seeking a way to learn from the people living among humanitarian crises what they most want and need, not just what the governments want to give. Sisters Rising Worldwide (SRW) asked A.R.C. if they had ever asked the Sisters serving there in the midst of need what would be most helpful. Sisters could describe how to alleviate the symptoms of the crises as well as name the underlying causes and how to reduce or solve them as well. At that moment, A.R.C. and SRW decided to work together. El Salvador–ground zero for violence—was selected for our first partnership.

Catholic Sisters in El Salvador represent a counter narrative to the violence and fear youth and families experience daily. Sisters are one of the most consistently trusted and beloved figures in their lives. They enable youth and their families to envision futures for themselves. In the presence of Sisters people feel safe, hopeful and joy.

Joy captured our imagination. Joy is beyond happy…it is a deep, freeing feeling. But, what does it look like? IDEO.org, a leading human-centered-design firm, hired by A.R.C. first asked the question, “What does Joy look like?” The answer came—Color! The sanctuary of hope, safety and Joy that Sisters provide will be identified by color. The Color Movement emerged as a platform to unite and support the Sisters, build safer communities, and bring hope and light to some of the most difficult places in El Salvador.

Imagine The Color Movement recognized by all as symbols of color on shirts, hats, doorposts, placards, anywhere and everywhere. The sanctuary Sisters provide will begin to spread far and wide by the people who carry Joy in their hearts and symbolize it with color. The sanctuary feeling spreads. Safety and Joy spread. Flourishing begins.

A unique opportunity exists now to build the Sister’s capacity to scale. In areas where gang violence and the graffiti associated with that violence is ubiquitous, we aim to replace those messages of hate with the messages of the Sisters – and to amplify the impact they are already having in building more hopeful, resilient, and safe communities in El Salvador.

Catholic Sisters are the differentiating factor that could bring big, lasting impact to some of the hardest hit communities in El Salvador. The Color Movement is designed to serve, strengthen, and scale the change they are already making. In order to do this, Sisters Rising Worldwide and the American Refugee Committee are bringing together 4 diverse groups:

  • Sisters and their local communities in El Salvador and their international presence
  • Faith-based business people and Sister-centered philanthropists*
  • Youth communities committed to social justice in El Salvador
  • Forward-thinking business partners

* We are pursuing relationships with existing organizations on the ground in El Salvador who work to address similar issues. We will continue to advance those relationships and bring them

Together we are co-creating the Color Movement, ensuring that the healing touch that Sisters bring to communities is amplified. The guiding principle is that program design must be tailored to Sisters’ strengths, because what they do works. We want to build on their strengths.

The Color Movement will significantly contribute to the following objectives and results:

  • Citizen security and rule of law in targeted areas improved,
  • Crime and violence in targeted municipalities reduced
  • Broad-based engagement in crime prevention efforts at the local level increased
  • Youth have greater access to quality education opportunities

Roles and responsibilities of the core partners

Sisters and their communities in El Salvador and abroad. Sisters Rising Worldwide (SRW) will provide guidance, insight, and support in shaping the architecture of the Color Movement, activating their rich Sister network to secure leverage funding. La Conferencia de Religiosas y Religiosos de El Salvador (CONFRES) – expansive network comprises 1,000 Sisters and will lead as the trusted-eye witnesses and skilled change agents.

Youth Communities in Sister-led neighborhoods

Youth in the community who are emerging as leaders, and who the Sisters and Color Movement team train to implement ideas for change, communicate peacefully, and lead their peers toward peaceful and productive futures.

Forward-thinking business partners and IDEO.org

– a firm that employed a human-centered design methodology will act as advisors to bring the proof of concept to scale, and will leverage their own resources and their business networks for support. IDEO.org are committed to playing an advisory role and lending their time and expertise to the program design.

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