Rescuers: Teaching Empathy and Resisting Violence

Rescuers: Teaching Empathy and Resisting Violence

Bosnia and HerzegovinaLarchmont, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

PROOF activates the Rescuer in each person; believing that empathy and righteous action are teachable and accessible to all.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

PROOF seeks to end genocidal and mass violence. PROOF uses photography and educational workshops as a means to inform and educate global audiences about the legacy of mass atrocities. Powered by a strong belief that photographic evidence and stories of upstanders is a unique and potent tool in the fight for human rights, our goal is to empower future generations to work for social change.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

PROOF's solution starts with the idea that individuals and communities may not know how to access the peacemaker within themselves and within their communities. We believe that pro-social behaviors and attitudes, such as empathy can be taught. PROOF systematically collects rescue stories of individuals whose lives have been torn apart by conflict, genocide, and environmental disasters. We then bring these stories to a wider audience through photographic exhibitions, testimonials, documentary films, books, and public education events.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Below is an outline of the work PROOF did in Bosnia with young people. This project was also replicated in Cambodia. Define: PROOF organized two half-day seminars in Bosnia with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local academics, and historians to understand what peacebuilder, upstander means in the local context. Identify: PROOF worked with its local partners and their networks, including mass media (e.g. radio shows) to identify and collect testimonies. Collect: PROOF worked with its local partners and trained three (3) individuals in Bosnia to conduct face-to-face interviews; handle the technologies (sound and camera) as well as provide translation into English, if necessary. Create and Disseminate: PROOF identified the appropriate medium depending on the context to convey the rescuer stories most effectively. Teach: PROOF and worked with local partners to develop training and teaching curriculum specific to each intended audience and cultural context. Assess: PROOF and its local partners developed a survey for distribution to visitors of the exhibit and/or theatrical performances to gauge their base line understanding of the issue being examined.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

As a small organization, with limited resources, PROOF seeks partnerships with peer organizations throughout the globe. In the U.S., PROOF could be compared with Witness and like organizations that use photography to move individuals to action. PROOF differs from these types of organizations as we seek to locate the good and advocate for its furtherance. We always seek to contextualize our projects in local context and enhance photography with historical and personal narratives.
About You
PROOF: Media for Social Justice
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

PROOF: Media for Social Justice

Organization Country

, NY, Larchmont

Country where this project is creating social impact
Your role in Education


The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

The pathway to peace is within each of us. PROOF teaches empathy, compassion + righteous actions and promotes peacebuilding in us all.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

PROOF is helping unearth and promote peacebuilding through media. We help locate the good in others and spread that light.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The solution has been activated in two countries. Here is an update:

I. Cambodia:
a. Three workshops held with 25 youth participants attending each workshop.
b. Creation of exhibition of Rescuer photos in Cambodia.
c. Executive director of PROOF gave two lectures at University in Cambodia, reaching more than 200 students.

II. Bosnia:
a. With a local partner, PROOF organized a symposium on Rescuers that was attended by 200 college students.
b. PROOF gave lectures on Rescuers to more than 500 participants at six different locations in Bosnia.
c. Public exhibition for Rescuers created, viewed by more than 1,000 people.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Return to Cambodia and Bosnia to run more workshops and host more lectures on PROOF's approach and its impact. PROOF will also work in Nepal and Colombia, co-hosting workshops for high school students with locale partners, collecting rescuer testimonies and organizing public exhibitions of rescuer stories and photos.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

As PROOF strives to work closely with local partners, our primary challenges have been related to identifying great local partners and supporting their efforts. To overcome these challenges, we will:

I. Spend more time with each NGO to ensure that a culturally specific understanding of upstander behavior is clear and actionable.
II. Deliberate more to identify the best possible local partner. In addition, when encountering any challenges with the partner, we will seek to resolve these proactively.
III. Both no. 1 and no. 2 will be addressed by scheduling more frequent site visits.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

300 students participate in PROOF workshops in four countries. Four PROOF public exhibitions, viewed by 2,000 individuals.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Identify local partners in Cambodia, Bosnia, Nepal and Colombia

Task 2

PROOF spends 2 weeks per setting, working closely with NGO partners and students

Task 3

PROOF and local partner host 3 workshops per setting with 25 students each, workshops are 3-days each

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

1,000 students participate in PROOF workshops in 8 countries. Eight PROOF public exhibitions, viewed by 8,000 individuals

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Identify local partners in eight countries

Task 2

PROOF spends 2 weeks per setting, working closely with NGO partners and students

Task 3

PROOF and local partner host 3 workshops per setting with 25 students each, workshops are 3-days each

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

I have always been an adventurer and traveler. When I was in Rwanda, I met Regan, a Hutu. Regan walked me through the village, showing me the path he takes each day to tend the farm, to visit family and friends in neighboring huts or to drink a beer with a buddy at a local tavern. While sharing with me his life today, he also retraced his steps and recounted the days leading up to the Genocide and what motivated him not to fight, but to help.

His bravery amazes me to this day. As I reflect upon Regan and others like him, I am struck by the thought that as much as we thank and elevate these individuals’ actions, I do believe that within each of us, sits a rescuer.

Tell us about your partnerships

PROOF relies on strong partnerships to further its work. Whether a partner be like the River Kids in Cambodia or the U.S. Mission in Bosnia, PROOF leverages the unique point of view and expertise of its partners to collect and share stories of Rescuers.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

PROOF relies heavily on student interns to help with research, outreach and fundraising. To date, there is only one paid staff member; an administrative assistant. PROOF's board is very involved in operations through fundraising and technical assistance. PROOF needs more paid staff. The Executive Director has yet to take any salary, routing all donations into program activities. With paid staff (e.g. fundraiser, workshop coordinator), PROOF could manage current goals, sustain and grow its operations and reach more individuals.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

PROOF has managed to do so well to date because of the executive director's persistence and her network. PROOF recognizes the value of networking and is ready to share that strength.