Urban Peace Institute Awards Certificates

The Urban Peace Institute recently awarded completion certificates to this year’s class of graduates from its community leadership programs. In a remote event billed as the Leadership Institute Celebration, certificates were awarded to those who completed Institute workshops in the “emerging”, advanced” and “congress” levels.

The Urban Peace Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering communities in safety and health initiatives that involve finding alternatives to current police enforcement, neighborhood violence and pandemic response. UPI was the recipient of the HFPA’s 2020 Social Justice Grant in the amount of $300,000.

In accepting the grant, UPI Founder and prominent civil rights leader Connie Rice spoke about the critical work the organization does throughout Los Angeles. We created what we call community safety partnership policing; a policing style that takes gladiator cops and turns them into guardians,” said Rice. “Instead of shock and awe, search and destroy, mass incarceration, and enforcement which is what George Floyd’s neighborhood gets most of the time from cops, we create police who are invested in the community, bond with the community.”

At the Leadership Institute Celebration, twenty-four workshop graduates were awarded certificates – all but one of the South LA residents were women of color who had completed the course in the institute’s three-tier program. Emerging level courses aim to empower participants’ voices and instill a sense of worth and agency. In advanced workshops, community members focus on engaging others through education. Congress fellows develop leadership skills by designing specific campaigns that benefit the community.


This year’s programs included bettering illumination in neighborhood housing (Blanca Gonzalez), face mask distribution in Watts (Rocio Alfaro) and trash pick-up improvement in public housing projects (Guadalupe Zapata). Participants achieved their goals while working and supporting their families. Coordinator Jackelyn Valladares, lead trainer Saul Garcia and executive director Fernando Rejon congratulated all graduates who were fairly beaming and at times emotional as they related personal stories of achievement encapsulating the potential of grass-roots efforts as key tools for meaningful social reform.

The HFPA joins program directors and partners in congratulating all Leadership graduates for their achievements and important work.