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WPDI, with Support from its Partners, Opens Community Learning Centers in Tijuana and Chiapas

November 16, 2018 During the past week, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) – with the support of its partners in the Telmex/Telcel Foundation, the Western Union Foundation, and Ericsson – opened two new Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in Tijuana, Baja California, and San Cristobal de las Casas. Over the next three years, the CLCs will host a variety of initiatives designed to help bring peace and sustainable development to their surrounding communities. This marks a new chapter of WPDI’s work in Mexico.

WPDI, a non-government organization with a global scope and reach, was founded by Forest Whitaker in 2012. Since then, it has developed a variety of programs in places like the United States, South Sudan, Uganda, and Mexico designed to promote peace and sustainable development in conflict-afflicted communities in those countries. What makes WPDI’s programs unique is that we especially seek to work with young people so as to harness their boundless energies and empower them to transform their communities to become more peaceful and equitable places.

Our now 15 CLCs are the lynchpin of that work. They serve as a safe place for members of the community to come together, gain valuable skills and knowledge, and organize. They offer free classes in topics such as conflict resolution education, information and communications technology, entrepreneurship and business skills, and many others; all designed to help participants gain skills that will increase their employability. They even host libraries for public use, community dialogues on important topics of conversation, and offer community members an opportunity to connect to the Internet and use computers or other technological equipment. Our new locations in Tijuana and San Cristobal de las Casas are already well on their way to becoming vibrant community hubs, evidenced by the large numbers of community attendees and local dignitaries at their respective inaugural events.

Perhaps most importantly, the CLCs also serve as the key component of the Youth Peacemakers Network program – WPDI’s signature initiative – which aims to empower young people to become agents for peace and positive transformation in their communities. That is because the CLCs will, as part of that program, host workshops for the youth cohorts currently being trained in Tijuana and San Cristobal de las Casas. After a year of intensive training, they will play a key role in their respective communities by organizing other youths in peace building activities, developing income-generating projects, bringing peace education to local schools, and hosting community dialogues – all with WPDI’s unwavering support.

Although WPDI has worked in Mexico for a number of years in lockstep with many of its partners, this past week proved to be our strongest commitment yet to building peace and bringing sustainable development to communities in San Cristobal de las Casas and Tijuana. As our Executive Director, Caroline Descombris, expressed in her inaugural remarks at both the Tijuana and San Cristobal de las Casas CLCs, “youths hold so much potential to build a more peaceful future, if given the tools they need to do so. I have been so impressed with the young people I have met here in our Youth Peacemakers Network program. All of WPDI looks forward to seeing what they accomplish in the coming years.” Fausto Cota Chirino, the Executive Director of the Telmex Telcel Foundation, concurred, noting that the foundation is “proud to collaborate with WPDI in this initiative, to help young people create new life opportunities and become leaders in promoting social change.”

Elizabeth Roscoe, Executive Director of the Western Union Foundation welcomed the news expressing that “the Western Union Foundation’s collaboration with WPDI shows how a successful grass roots model can be scaled to create large scale change. We are excited to see the expansion of the WPDI network, bringing peace and opportunity to youths in Mexico.”

For more information about WPDI’s Mexico or Youth Peacemaker Network programs, please contact Joseph Good at

About the Telmex Telcel Foundation: Sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate in Mexico, the Telmex Telcel Foundation has a solid social commitment to Mexicans and a foundational objective: the influence structural problems that afflict Mexico. For the Telmex Telcel Foundation, social responsibility is an act of love for life, for our fellow human beings. It works closely with local authorities and organizations with experience and recognition in their respective fields, so that the support we provide directly impacts those who need it most.

About the Western Union Foundation: The Western Union Foundation believes that education is one of the surest pathways to economic opportunity. Through collaborations with NGOs around the world, the Foundation has embarked on a five-year mission to connect 50,000 migrants, refugees, women and young people to the global economy through demand-driven skills training and workforce enablement programs by 2020. The Foundation also offers a global scholarship program that helps put a post-secondary education in reach for in-need students studying in the STEM fields and business. To date, more than $117 million has been given to fund projects affecting more than 800,000 people in 137 countries across the globe, including humanitarian relief for communities in crisis. The Western Union Foundation is a separate charitable corporation that is tax-exempt under 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code, and receives support from The Western Union Company, its employees, agents and business partners. Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible for US income tax purposes. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter @TheWUFoundation.